The Racial Justice Training Institute is built around seven core competencies that successful racial justice advocates exhibit. A competency is defined as a specific range of skill, knowledge or ability that can be developed through education, training and practice. The Institute design reflects a range of learning activities through which advocates develop mastery in each of these core competencies:
(1) Understanding structural racialization: Structural racializationi refers to a framework for understanding the institutional and public policies that, whether intentionally or not, create and perpetuate fundamental barriers to economic and social equality for persons and communities of color and opportunities for white individuals and communities.
(2) Systems thinking is a process of looking at underlying structures, cause and effect relationships, and interdependencies among various parts of a whole with the goal of developing effective, feasible solutions that address underlying causes of problemsIn the context of racial justice advocacy, systems thinking is a powerful tool for examining how historical legacies, individuals, institutions and structures work interactively to distribute advantages and disadvantages along racial lines.
(3) Social cognition and implicit bias: Social cognition theory refers to the ways in which the brain takes in the items it perceives, maps those perceptions against mental schemas, which in turn affect attitudes and beliefs. When applied to the concept of race, social cognition and implicit bias theory helps undermine the central assumption of the color-blind paradigm: that racial discrimination, if it exists, must be the result of a conscious act.
(4) Framing and communication: Framing refers to the subtle selection of certain aspects of an issue in order to cue a specific response. It includes and communicates underlying values, and constructs a lens that shapes the parameters of what listeners hear and feel.
(5) Community engagement and alliance building: The ability to work across differences and bring together diverse perspectives and interests is the cornerstone of successful racial justice advocacy. In working with groups, advocates must be able to create environments that encourage participation, respect differences and support collaborative group initiatives.
(6) Advocacy approaches: Racial justice advocates utilize a full range of legal and non-legal advocacy tools to achieve racial equity goals.
(7) Leadership and management practices: To successfully advance a racial justice advocacy agenda, advocates must be able to articulate a compelling race equity vision and build alignment with this vision and associated action steps within their organizations and communities.
As a result of participating in the Institute, advocates will develop capacity in each of the core competencies described above; specifically, they will be able to:
- Utilize systems analysis tools to identify root causes of and proposed solutions to race-equity issues;
- Construct and carry out a research plan in order to identify, obtain, analyze and present evidence of racial disparities;
- Utilize communication tools to engage in productive conversations regarding racial differences and dynamics;
- Review current statutory schemes and case law in their jurisdictions to determine whether additional advocacy is required;
- Identify alternative advocacy approaches and apply these in complementary ways in order to achieve race-equity goals;
- Craft and communicate an effective race-informed message that successfully reaches diverse audiences;
- Utilize a range of skills and strategies to counteract implicit bias;
- Design and implement a plan for addressing race-equity issues in their communities;
- Work with their programs to assess their internal capacities to successfully carry out race-equity work; and,
- Identify and propose race-equity practices to strengthen their programs’ race equity work across all substantive practice areas.
Note: Racial Justice Training Institute goals relate to the changes we seek to make community-wide as a result of the Institute whereas the above objectives are related to what we expect individual advocates to be able to do as a result of their Institute participation.