Framing Systemic Racism
These pillars can help us understand the past to build a better future. They are designed to make systemic racism feel identifiable, feel relevant to our lives, and, most importantly, feel changeable.
Racism is a public health threat that has traumatic effects on the physical, emotional, and mental health of individuals, families, and communities. This pillar addresses the impact of racism on the wellbeing of individuals and communities. An equitable future is one where people of all races can not only live but live well.
Image Credit: Associated Press, Photographer: Bebeto Matthews
The racial wealth gap has knowable historical foundations. Rooted in almost 400 years of slavery, dispossession and ongoing prejudice, the reality of economic inequality is rooted in our everyday lives, from inheritances to housing to debates about reparations. This pillar addresses the origins, persistence, and growth of racial economic disparity.
Image Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture © Terry Boddie
Historical and contemporary injustices have disproportionately exposed communities of color to deep-seated hazards like environmental toxicity, displacement, and violence. This pillar considers how race and racism have shaped access to safe, healthy public spaces and private living spaces.
Image Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Jamel Shabazz
Whether as laws, principles, or cultural practices, policies guide collective action and influence social norms. Anti-racist policies enact purposeful and ethical actions that promote racial equity and justice for all people. This pillar addresses how formal and informal policies create or worsen racial inequality.
Image Credit: Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Gift of Monica Karales and the Estate of James Karales © Estate of James Karales
Racial terminologies may change in different national contexts, but racism exists globally. This pillar acknowledges the global realities of racism and seeks to learn from international efforts toward truth and reconciliation. The concurrent and intertwined pandemics of COVID-19 and racism demand that we, as an international community, learn how to move forward together.
Image credit: Rita Willaert, 2008, Creative Commons
Race is more than individual identification. Our understandings of race and belonging are also publicly constructed and reinforced. Popular culture and shared public spaces can expose the tensions between what we see and who is represented. This pillar explores how public representations of race affect our understandings of history, ourselves, and each other.
Image credit: Mobilus In Mobili, 2017, Creative Commons