Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation

Publication date – Originally published in 1992. This page summarizes the updated (2008) version.
Developed by – Everyday Democracy


Aims, objectives, and intended audience

Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation aims to help participants engage in community-wide conversations about racism with the aim of create long-term change in community institutions, policies, and culture. Participants from all walks of life are encouraged to participate in small group dialogue sessions of 8-12 people to discuss racism. Conversations begin with personal experiences and eventually build to discuss community concerns and ways in which participants may take action to improve their community.

Broad structure and key educational methods

Each session lasts two hours. Dialogue sessions use case studies, data, and short activities to help participants share their experiences and perspectives. This dialogue guide is action-oriented; the latter sessions gradually build towards the creation of a formal action plan with an optional public unveiling of that plan at a community-wide Action Forum. Most sessions conclude by asking participants to prepare for the next session by reflecting on a question or by noting examples of discussion concepts as they encounter them in daily life.

An optional supplement, Dialogue for Affinity Groups, may be used in conjunction with Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation.

Key topics or themes by module

1. Making Connections

This session is designed to help participants to get to know each other and begin to practice sharing their views and stories. Participant sharing sessions invite dialogue on hopes and fears related to this series, personal experiences with racism or discrimination, and reactions when encountering prejudiced remarks or actions. Smaller portions of this session are also devoted to setting “ground rules” for respectful dialogue and to overview the dialogue-to-change process that undergirds these sessions.

2. Our Ethnic Backgrounds and Racism

This session delves into conversations about how our backgrounds reflect our interactions with folks of a different race or ethnicity. The bulk of the session is devoted to a discussion of 14 short (2-3 sentence) case studies that address instances of racial or ethnic discomfort or prejudice. Participants talk about these scenarios and share related experiences that have occurred within their own community. Additional discussion covers key terms such as racism, discrimination, stereotyping, prejudice, and institutional racism.

3. Our Unequal Nation

By examining inequities in the U.S. through both empirical data and personal experiences, this session highlights some of the progress that has been made and reiterates the need to continue to combat structural inequities.

4. Why Do Inequities Exist?

Having established the presence of racial and ethnic inequities in the previous session, this material now considers possible explanations behind these disparities. The text briefly presents eight short explanations and prompts participants to identify and discuss which views align with and diverge from their own perspectives. The latter portion of the session begins to transition back to local concerns, as participants examine fact sheets about their local communities and compare that to prior discussions of national challenges.

5. Looking at Our Community

After assessing how their community ranks with respect to categories such as education, criminal justice, media, and health care, this session prepares participants to seriously consider what changes they would like to see and how those changes may be attained. The group addresses seven approaches to change (i.e., focus on institutions, laws, relationships, etc.) and then engages in a visioning exercise to imagine what they would like their community to look like ten years from now.

6. Moving to Action

This session helps participants translate the ideas they have expressed throughout the course of the dialogue program into an action plan. The session opens by asking folks to brainstorm potential action ideas and the strengths/assets that already exist within the community. Participants then proceed through a process that narrows down the list of action ideas to two ideas that are practical and would have a long-term impact. Participants are asked to sign a commitment to pursuing these action items. The final twenty minutes of the session close with an evaluation and reflection on the dialogue experience and outcomes.

7. (Optional) – Action Forum

This optional post-dialogue large community gathering provides an opportunity for participants to present their action ideas and form task forces for pursuing these actions.

This document also includes a facilitator’s guide and a list of additional resources (organizations, books, etc.).

Curriculum acquisition information

This dialogue guide is available as a free download on Everyday Democracy’s Issue Guide Exchange. Accessing the document requires registering for a free account.

Everyday Democracy (formerly Study Circles Resource Center)
111 Founders Plaza, Suite 1403
East Hartford, CT 06108
Phone: 860-928-2616
Fax: 860-928-3713