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College of Arts and Sciences

21 Day Equity Challenge

The College of Arts and Sciences is dedicated to increasing understandings of race equity and inclusion. Science tells us that 21 days is the amount of time needed to create a habit. To that end, this three-week challenge will offer participants the chance to deliberately focus on issues of equity on a daily basis. By building an “equity habit” we believe we can learn how to more effectively understand and celebrate our differences.

This challenge is meant to:

  • break these concepts into small and digestible goals
  • empower you to use your voice and influence to create situations for personal growth
  • provide tangible actions to help build a more just future

How to use this challenge

Based on the work of Dr. Eddie Moore, Jr., the 21 Day Equity Challenge is an opportunity to deepen your understanding of equity issues. 

  • Each day read, watch, or listen to the information scheduled for that day.
  • The challenge can be completed alone or in a group. 
  • Each day focuses on a specific topic such as structural racism, allyship, or the origins of race.

Welcome to our 21 Day Equity Challenge! It is our hope that throughout these three weeks you can learn about the systems that are in place that keeps our communities inequitable. We also hope you are able to confront what may be your own blinders and biases.

Take a moment and watch this one minute and eight second video.

Watch: Test Your Awareness: Do the Test

Action for the day: Choose 1

  1. Share this video with one person you know and trust and discuss what it made you think of as well as share that you are engaging in this 21-day challenge.
  2. Ask a friend to help you keep your commitment to the challenge.

It’s important to know yourself and reconnect to your own core values. By doing this you can begin to see those values reflected back to you from most everyone you meet.

Choose one:

  1. Watch this short video where Kimberlé Crenshaw discusses the concept of intersectionality. 
  2. Starburst Identity Chart from Facing History [pdf]

Print out this handout and fill in all of your different identities. On the inward facing arrows, write what others may think when they look at you. On the outward facing arrows, write what you believe to be your defining characteristics.

How much do you know about the creation of race? Today we learn more about the social construction of race.

Choose one:

  1. Watch this video from the PBS series The Origin of Everything, The Origin of Race in the USA. 
  2. Watch this video, The myth of race, debunked in 3 minutes .

Today’s Action: Choose one

  1. Count the number of teachers, mentors, friends, and colleagues that identify in the same racial category as you. 
    1. Now count how many who identify in a racial category different than your own and compare and contrast your results.
    2. Share these findings with a friend and discuss how race impacts your family, friends, and those you choose to keep as a chosen family. 
  1.  In your workspace, count the number of people who visibly identify as a person of color and how many visibly identify as white or as white-passing. With a colleague you are close to or have a good relationship with, engage in a dialog around the impacts of race in your workspace. 

How did certain ethnic groups coalesce into “whiteness?” Or, as Tim Wise asks, where do white people come from?

Choose one:

  1. Watch: Tim Wise on the history of whiteness.
  2. Read: “Dreaming of a Self Beyond Whiteness and Isolation” by john a. powell .

Today’s Action: Choose One

  1. Take 3-5 minutes to journal about your thoughts and feelings after the activity.
  2. Share the video or paper with one other person and discuss what you’ve learned.

Our brains play tricks on us. This can lead to harmful stereotypes. Today, think for a moment about how we might better combat our assumptions and biases.
Choose one:
1. Watch: Implicit Bias: Peanut Butter, Jelly and Racism
2. Take an Implicit Association Test (IAT): Project Implicit

Today’s Action: Choose Two

1.    Take 3-5 minutes to journal about your thoughts and feelings after the activity.
2.    Share the video or IAT with one other person and discuss implicit and unconscious bias.
3.    Take a moment to think about how you might combat your own implicit or unconscious bias.

What are some effects that “whiteness” has on society as a whole, specifically regarding Anti-Black racism?  The concept of white lives in opposition to black, creating a human hierarchy of “good” and “bad.”

Choose one:

  1. Watch John A. Powell, director of the UC Berkeley Othering & Belonging Institute, discusses anti-Black state violence (he is on at the 17:37 mark). 
  2. Review the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism. 

Today’s action: Choose one:

  1. Reflect on the physical feelings you felt when watching or reading the information. Journal for 5-7 minutes about your reaction.
  2. Speak with a friend or colleague about an action you might take to combat anti-Black racism in your community.

As we pause to reflect on what we may have learned over the last week it is vital that we are able to center ourselves and begin to heal from within.

Today we look to transformative movement building.

Key Ideas of Transformative Movement Building from the Move to End Violence

  1. Transformative movement building recognizes that patterns of injustice are maintained through daily habits and actions. Taking on injustice requires new forms of culture, new modes of relating to ourselves and each other.
  2. Physical and transformative practices help us to move beyond habits of survival mode into practices of thriving.
  3. The change we want to see in the world requires a radical shift in our relationships to one another. The commitment and practice of “Beloved Community” — of reconciliation through repairing harm, even with those we may see as opponents — is central to our vision for a transformed future.

Watch this webinar to learn more. 


Racism and implicit bias work together to shore up systems and structures meant to separate people into strata or hierarchies.

Choose one:

  1. Watch the animated film: Segregated by Design. 
  2. Watch this clip: Systemic Racism Explained. 
  3. Read the poem, “Rosa,” by Rita Dove, the first African American to be named the American Poet Laureate .

Today's action: Choose one:

  1. In your daily commute or next trip to the grocery store, take a look around to see if you notice signs of structural racism. Are there walls surrounding certain neighborhoods? Where is the closest grocery store?
  2. Share what you watched or read with a friend and discuss the information.

“I realized that I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but also had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, White privilege, which puts me at an advantage.” – Peggy McIntosh 1990

Choose one:

  1. Watch White Bred by The Alliance of White Anti-Racists Everywhere – Los Angeles (AWARE-LA) is an all-volunteer alliance of white anti-racist people organizing to challenge racism and work for racial justice in transformative alliance with people of color.    
  2. Watch What is Privilege? By Buzzfeed Videos. 
  3. Do a self assessment to understand your level of privilege. 

Today's action: Choose one:

  1. Share what you watched or your self assessment and discuss what you’ve learned with a trusted friend or colleague. 
  2. Review the document, How to Be an Ally Without Causing Harm to think about how you might use your privilege for justice.  (on page 7)

Today we focus on broadening our understanding and knowledge of Native Americans. Indigenous people on the American continent have suffered for centuries from genocide, dislocation and other kinds of violence. Currently, citizens of Native nations are a vibrant part of what makes the United States so beautiful.

Choose one:

  1. Explore this interactive map created by Native Land Digital to discover what indigenous land you inhabit.  
  2. Read “10 Things You Don’t Know About Native Americans” from Native American Heritage Programs.  
  3. Explore the online exhibit, Americans, curated by the National Museum of the American Indian that asks about imigry and imaginings of Native Americans. 

Today's action: Choose one:

  1. Challenge yourself to find out even more about the huge variety of experiences and histories of Native Americans, especially those whose land you inhabit.
  2. Donate money to programs that support Native communities.  Some options are: Native American Heritage Association, the First Nations Development Institute, the Native American Rights Fund and the Adopt-a-Native-Elder Program.
  3. Purchase Native products.

Racism exists on multiple levels: Personal, Interpersonal, Institutional, and Structural. Each of these affect people in a variety of ways, whether they recognize it or not. Today we will explore interpersonal racism.

Choose one: 

  1. Examine this list of 21 Racial Microaggressions. 
  2. Watch: Cultural Appropriation at Halloween: My Culture Is Not a Costume 

Today's action: Choose one:

  1. Pay closer attention to subtle and overt racist actions and speech in those you interact with as well as in the media. Think about how you might interrupt these.
  2. Learn about ways to be an active bystander.

Institutional racism is evident in policies and cultures that benefit the majority and disadvantage the minority. From ideas of “professionalism” to who might be comfortable in norms of whiteness culture.

Choose one:

  1. Read this article from The Conversation. Explainer: what is systemic racism and institutional racism? 
  2. Review the Continuum on Becoming an Anti-Racist Organization [pdf]. 
  3. Review the Six Phases of Racial Equity Practice. 

Today's action: Choose one:

  1. Bring these worksheets to your organization to discuss action steps towards equity.
  2. Think about how your decisions at home, work, and in the community advancing race equity.
  3. Use this guide developed by the REI Learning Collaborative to implement new equitable policies in your organization. 

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”


In a September 2020 article the Post and Courier detailed the wealth gap in South Carolina. They found that African Americans are 27 percent of the overall population but that they make up 60 percent of those currently in poverty. Other minority populations are also highly impacted by this wealth gap.  Read the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina’s newest report to gain more understanding of the indicators and structural factors of poverty in the state. 

Choose one:

  1. Read “Systemic Inequality: How America’s Structural Racism Helped Create the Black-White Wealth Gap” from the Center for American Progress. 
  2. Read “Systemic racism, not $200 Air Jordans, suppresses Black wealth” from The Washington Post. 
  3. Watch this video on the Wealth Gap from Race Forward. 
  4. Read “How This Crazy Rich Asian Fights Wealth Inequality and the Model Minority Myth” from Colorlines. 

Today's action: Choose one:

  1. Review the Institute for Policy Studies Ten Solutions to Bridge the Racial Wealth Divide and chose one or more of their options to pursue and lobby for. 
  2. Use Prosperity Now’s Action Center to respond directly to your lawmakers about issues you want to see changed or implemented.
  3. Bring Bread for the World’s racial wealth gap simulation to your community. 

Pause today to think back on the lessons and actions from the last week. Take a moment to journal about the topics and ideas that stood out most for you. As we move into the last week, remember to keep in touch with what your body and emotions are telling you. Try a 5-minute meditation. Here is a good example.

Today’s topic comes from Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Social Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Todd Shaw. As an Associate Professor and past Chair of Political Science,  Shaw offers us a way to frame racial housing discrimination.

Choose one:

  1. Richard Rothstein in his book The Color of Law (2018) details the historical research and primary evidence for how the federal government created several policies that racial segregation Black communities.  Listen to this NPR interview where Rothstein previews the findings of his book.
  2. Housing discrimination has had a direct impact upon African American economic well-being and in turn helped foment the gaping racial wealth inequalities in the U.S.  See this clip from "Race: The Power of an Illusion -- The House We Live In" -- for poignant stories about housing discrimination and wealth inequalities.

Choose one action:

  1. Check out this video explaining the ban the box initiative for housing applications.  Think about how you might get involved with this movement.
  2. Watch this video that explains how the Fair Housing Act equally protects those with disabilities and have the right to ask for reasonable accommodations and modification from landlords. 

In a 1971 speech given to the National Women’s Political Caucus Civil Rights Leader Fannie Lou Hamer said, "Now, we've got to have some changes in this country," she told the group. "And not only changes for the black man, and only changes for the black woman, but the changes we have to have in this country are going to be for liberation of all people--because nobody's free until everybody's free." This sentiment has been repeated numerous times and it continues to ring true. How is it that we know our fates are linked yet we continue, as a broader society, to act as if we were unique and separate individuals? Today we’ll learn how racism affects the health of all Americans.

Choose one:

  1. Read “Strange Harvest: a Cross-sectional Ecological Analysis of the Association Between Historic Lynching Events and 2010-2014 County Mortality Rates” to understand how a history of lynching leads to shorter life expectancy among all residents.
  2. Watch Jonathan Metzl discuss his book, Dying of Whiteness to explore how some Americans make choices detrimental to their own health because of racist beliefs.
  3. Examine the resources provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on Racism and Health. 

Action choose one:

  1. Take 5 -7 minutes to journal about what this information means to you. Are you experiencing any emotions? What are they?
  2. Share the information you learned with a friend or colleague.
  3. Commit to researching the history of lynching in your county and creating a remembrance commission like the one in Union County.

Reparation: the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.

Now that we understand a bit more about the extended impacts of racism extending from the founding of the United States, what can be done to make amends with generations of people who suffered?

Choose one:

  1. Examine the National African American Reparations Commission Preliminary Report. 
  2. Review the Land Reparations & Indigenous Solidarity Toolkit.
  3. Watch The History of Reparations from the PBS series Origin of Everything. 

Action choose one:

  1. Review the Indigenous Principles of Just Transition and discuss it with your friends or family.   Are there steps that you can take?
  2. Examine this resource from the Coming to the Table Reparations Working Group and decide what actions you can take towards reparations either personally or collectively. 

Roxane Gay in her article Marie Claire“On Making Black Lives Matter, notes:

Black people do not need allies. We need people to stand up and take on the problems borne of oppression as their own, without remove or distance.

We need people to do this even if they cannot fully understand what it’s like to be oppressed for their race or ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, class, religion, or other marker of identity.

We need people to use common sense to figure out how to participate in social justice.

A fundamental step to being a good ally is leaning into discomfort. Amélie Lamont, creator of The Guide to Allyship  said, "Many would-be allies fear making mistakes that could have them labeled as “-ist” or “-ic” (racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, etc). But as an ally, you’re also affected by a system of oppression. This means that as an ally, there is much to unlearn and learn—mistakes are expected. You need to own this as fact and should be willing to embrace the daily work of doing better."

It’s important to understand that this is not a one time action. Being an ally is a lifestyle, a way of being where you constantly challenge yourself to listen more deeply. do better, and understand more. When you mess up, here is some guidance: Getting Called Out: How to Apologize.

Choose one:

  1. Review this document on How to Be an Ally Without Causing Harm. (on page 7) 
  2. Watch 5 Tips for Being an Ally. 

Choose one or more actions:

  1. Join an organization dedicated to social justice. Follow them on social media and show up to their events.
  2. Donate to an organization that is dedicated to social justice.
  3. Speak up when you see someone being harassed.
  4. Dedicate yourself to practicing call in culture as opposed to call out culture. Professor Loretta Ross explains the concept in this article. 

The next generations are looking to us to lead them towards equity and justice. Today’s work involves teaching children how to appreciate and celebrate differences. In an article from NPR on kindness the author writes, “In a University of Toronto study, infants as young as six months old showed a preference for members of their own race and against members of different races.” Indeed, they often showed the desire for those not like them to be punished. One of the researchers, Thomas Lickona, said, "So here's a real forerunner, evident as early as six months of age, of what becomes ugly prejudice, discrimination and so on later on." Our hope is to equip you to have important conversations with the children in your life, the younger the better.

Choose one:

  1. Listen to or read this article, Why All Parents Should Talk With Their Kids About Social Identity and spend some time with the provided links there. 
  2. Read 8 Tips for Talking to Your Child About Racial Injustice. 
  3. Explore the Learning for Justice website. 

Choose one action:

  1. Share these resources with parents and educators.
  2. Approach your local school board to discuss including education on racism in the curriculum.

Take some time today to reflect and journal on the lessons from the past week. What actions have you committed to? What have you learned? Did you feel resistant to any of the lessons or actions?

Pause today to think back on the lessons and actions from the last three weeks. Take a moment to journal about the topics and ideas that stood out most for you. What new knowledge or understanding do you have? What about this experience will stick with you in coming weeks and months?

As always, remember to keep in touch with what your body and emotions are telling you. Try a 5-minute meditation. Here is a good example. 



Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.