DAY 1: Race & Racial Identity

Welcome to the Racial Equity 21-Day Challenge!

The Challenge begins on a day that honors the legacy of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life’s work around equality and service to others remains relevant in light of the many challenges we continue to face as a nation. Embodying Dr. King’s commitment to service, United Way of Central Carolinas invites all participants in this learning journey to get involved in the weekly call to action opportunities that benefit area nonprofits.

Individually and collectively, we must continue to confront our country's history and relationship to identity. To do so we must take a closer look at the inequities that are deeply rooted in our systems and institutions and work together to create an America where every individual has the opportunity to succeed, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion and identity. Over the next 21 days, we will explore difficult topics such as structural racism, segregation and privilege in order to open up dialogue on how we can be champions of equity in our personal and professional lives.

Each day, we will provide meaningful content that offers multiple perspectives. We encourage you to dedicate 10-15 minutes of learning time each day so you can complete the challenge on time. You may find it best to digest this content slowly to allow adequate time to process what you are learning and avoid burnout over the duration of the Challenge.

Before you get started, please complete this brief pre-event survey to set your intentions and share your goals for the Challenge with us. We also encourage you to download your Day 1 Journal – a reflection tool designed to ensure you are taking full advantage of what the Challenge has to offer.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concern to the broader concern of all humanity.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Today, we will define race as a concept. However, before sharing this definition, we ask that you reflect on your personal understanding of race by answering the following questions:
  • What is race to you?
  • Is race science based, or a social construct?
  • How does your race impact you on a day-to-day basis?
  • Are there any unique events that have occurred exclusively because of your race?
After reflecting on the questions above, use the resources below to learn more about racial equity and the role it can play in your life and the lives of your peers and coworkers. Please find our shared definition of race below.

Race: A socially constructed way of grouping people based on skin color and other apparent physical differences, which has no genetic or scientific basis. The ideology of race has become embedded in our identities, institutions and culture and is used as a basis for discrimination and domination.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE: Do one or more of the following…


Read the article Race and Racial Identity Are Social Constructs by Angela Onwuachi-Willig on how race is not a proven concept, but instead a social construct.
Browse Talking about Race webpage posted on the National Museum of African American History and Culture discussing race, racial identity and racism.


Watch the TEDx Talk Unpacking My Baggage: Re-framing Racial Identity by Abbi Van Hook to see an alternative way of looking at racial identity based on varying cultures.
Watch Growing Pains from TEDxYouth@Davenport — A collaboration of three lifelong friends, they recount their very different experiences growing up in very similar situations. Nia, Lily and Nina express their unique and similar struggles, using their voices in this story-based speaking performance.


Listen as NPR's Tony Cox launches a four-part series exploring issues of American identity. Each of the panelists begin the discussion by describing their own concepts of identity, race and ethnicity — and also, how they see the "other" in their own lives.


Take part in this week's service activity: Black Authors Children’s Book Drive

Encourage literacy in our community’s youngest members by collecting and donating new children’s books by Black authors. These books will be distributed to children in need by our distribution partners. Learn more and give back.

NEXT TOPIC: Intersectionality

Capture what you learned by journaling your thoughts and feelings about today's content. Click below to download a journal page for today.
If you are participating in the Challenge as part of a group, download this free guide to help facilitate discussion.
To support this work give here.

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