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Understanding Structural Racism Activity

Everyday Democracy published the five-page activity, Understanding Structural Racism Activity, on January 2015. This activity gives participants an opportunity for better understanding how structural racism manifests and how to design realistic events/actions from a structural racism lens. Participants will explore all three layers of structural racism: personal attitudes/beliefs, formal and informal practices, and policies and procedures- via group discussion and skit activity, then work through the issues that arise at all three levels to create realistic events/actions. Below is an excerpt from the activity and you can download for free from Everyday Democracy here

ED_structural_racismFrom the activity…

This activity helps participants delve deeper in analyzing racism and start to learn how to use a structural racism lens. Many times, actions are focused on changing the personal beliefs without looking at the practices and procedures that contribute to the issue. Through this activity, participants will have the opportunity to break down the issue of racism at a structural level so that the group can come up with realistic action ideas for change.


To get participants to analyze an issue through a structural racism lens

To engage participants in an interactive way to identify the personal beliefs, practices, and procedures that contribute to the issue

To create a compiled list of barriers impacting the issue on the structural level

Materials needed:

Structural Racism handouts
Chart paper


Review the Structural Racism handout. Familiarize yourself and understand all 3 layers to structural racism: the personal attitudes/beliefs, formal and informal practices, and policies and procedures.

Review the sample structural racism examples. If the sample examples do not fit the community specific issue, brainstorm a few examples for each level.

Identify the community specific issue the group will work on.

Part 1: Activity overview

Pass out the Structural Racism handouts. Give participants a few minutes to review them.

Explain each level of structural racism as participants look on.

Use the examples to help participants understand each level. Allow time for clarifying questions.

Divide participants into three groups. Group 1 will be “Personal Attitudes,” Group 2 will be “Formal and Informal Practices,” and Group 3 will be “Policies and Procedures.”

In the small groups, give participants 10 minutes to think of examples for their assigned group. Have the groups record their answers on chart paper.

Part 2: Skit Activity

Following the brainstorm, ask each small group to pick one example and create a 2-minute skit to illustrate the example.

Have each group set the skit’s context and perform their skit. Ask the audience to pay attention to how the skit illustrates the group’s assigned level.

After each skit, debrief with the following questions:

Was the skit realistic?

How was the skit an example of personal attitudes and beliefs/practices/policies and procedures?

After all the skits, ask all three skits to start up simultaneously. Wait about 20 seconds.

Then, stop the skits and explain that collectively, these are the different levels contributing to the issue. If one level is addressed, there are two other levels occurring at the same time. If this group wants to truly see change, actions need to address all three levels.

You can find access to the rest of the activity on Everyday Democracy’s site here.

About Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy
Everyday Democracy (formerly called the Study Circles Resource Center) is a project of The Paul J. Aicher Foundation, a private operating foundation dedicated to strengthening deliberative democracy and improving the quality of public life in the United States. Since our founding in 1989, we’ve worked with hundreds of communities across the United States on issues such as: racial equity, poverty reduction and economic development, education reform, early childhood development and building strong neighborhoods. We work with national, regional and state organizations in order to leverage our resources and to expand the reach and impact of civic engagement processes and tools.
Follow on Twitter: @EvDem

Resource Link: http://everyday-democracy.org/resources/understanding-structural-racism-activity

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