Racial Equity Consciousness

A Framework to Foster Antiracist Practices and Cultures Across Communities

The Case for Consciousness

“Racist ideas have defined our society since its beginning and can feel so natural and obvious as to be banal, but antiracist ideas remain difficult to comprehend, in part because they go against the flow of this country’s history. As Audre Lorde said in 1980, “We have all been programmed to respond to the human differences between us with fear and loathing and to handle that difference in one of three ways: ignore it, and if that is not possible, copy it if we think it is dominant, or destroy it if we think it is subordinate. But we have no patterns for relating across our human differences as equals.” To be an antiracist is a radical choice in the face of this history, requiring a radical reorientation of our consciousness.”

— Ibram X. Kendi, How To Be An Antiracist —

The Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI), in coalition with institutional and community partners, is committed to fostering an antiracist culture  at the University of Pittsburgh and beyond to address systemic racism and advance racial equity.

Systemic problems necessitate systemic solutions

As racism is systemic, the work of dismantling racism in higher education, and across all institutions and communities, must extend beyond reacting to instances of racism to thoughtful, vigilant, and sustained practices. Advancing antiracism across our community necessitates collective cultivation of an institutional culture that embraces continuing education and engagement to assess and address racial inequity present in behaviors, practices, policies, settings, and outcomes. 

To be antiracist is to value the promise of racial equality in the charge for racial equity. It is to understand that ongoing, corrective action is needed to foster fair and desirable societal outcomes, specifically with communities that have been systemically underrepresented, underserved, undervalued, and oppressed. Fostering systemic antiracism to realize systemic racial equity requires the engagement of an expansive coalition of institutional and community partners in constructive, consistent, and communal dialogue and implementation. This effort is catalyzed and sustained by personal investments, at all levels, in the development of our racial equity consciousness— the dispositions, understanding, awareness, and skills that empower us to contemplate and cultivate racial equity.  

Racial equity consciousness consists of four interrelated components: racial equity dispositions, understanding of racial equity, racial equity awareness, and racial equity skills.

Figure 1 - Racial equity consciousness consists of four interrelated components: racial equity dispositions, understanding of racial equity, racial equity awareness, and racial equity skills. 

In other words, your racial equity consciousness reflects how much you value and are motivated towards racial equality, how well you understand the phenomenon of racial inequity, how aware or mindful you are as to whether others are experiencing fair and equitable treatment, and how capable you are to foster solutions that advance racial equity.

Developing Racial Equity Consciousness

No one is born racist or antiracist; these result from the choices we make. Being antiracist results from a conscious decision to make frequent, consistent, equitable choices daily. These choices require ongoing self-awareness and self-reflection as we move through life. In the absence of making antiracist choices, we (un)consciously uphold aspects of white supremacy, white-dominant culture, and unequal institutions and society. Being racist or antiracist is not about who you are; it is about what you do.

National Museum of African American History & Culture —

Racial equity consciousness is not an ideal level of dispositions, understanding, awareness, or skills that we attain, after which we remain static. Rather, it is dynamic. In this sense, it is comparable to developing software coding skills. There is always something new to learn and practice.

Racial equity consciousness can be broken into six bilateral spheres of development that reflect the multi-faceted approach requisite in analyzing and engaging the complexity and pervasiveness of racism: (1) understanding racial oppression: advancing racial liberation, (2) examining racial identities: addressing racial biases, (3) embracing racial diversity: growing racial competence, (4) building racial empathy: enhancing racial stamina (5) acknowledging racial trauma: fostering racial healing, (6) gauging racial inequities: championing racial justice.

Racial Equity Consciousness: Six Bilateral Spheres of Development

Figure 2 - Racial Equity Consciousness: Six Bilateral Spheres of Development 

The Racial Equity Consciousness Institute is facilitated via a series of immersive, learner-oriented education and dialogue modules and takes a multifaceted approach to contemplating race and racism—focally, anti-Blackness. The Institute engages participants through a referential and constructive framework to analyze the complexity and pervasiveness of racism, and reflect on what they can do, individually and collectively, to advance racial equity in their institutions and communities. 

Through the institute, participants explore and engage six bilateral spheres of racial equity consciousness development in efforts to expand capacity to seek, consider, and adopt different perspectives; promote personal growth and empowerment; enhance cultural humility, cultural competence, and cultural agency; and ultimately, embody the mindset to foster antiracist practices, cultures, and communities.

Session Schedule  (2-hour sessions, 11am - 1pm)

Institute Modules

February 15, 2022 - Racial Equity Consciousness: An Overview

Module Objectives:

  • Reflections on Race, Ethnicity, Intersectionality, Democracy, and Equity
  • The Concept And Benefits Of Racial Equity Consciousness
  • Developing Racial Equity Consciousness


February 22, 2022 - Understanding Racial Oppression | Advancing Racial Liberation

Module Objectives:

  • Understand structural racism and its oppressive impacts.
  • Understand antiracism and its liberatory aims.


March 1, 2022 - Examining Racial Identities | Addressing Racial Biases

Module Objectives:

  • Reflect on our social identity development as it relates to race.
  • Understand how our racial socialization informs our conscious & unconscious behaviors and the way we view ourselves and others.
  • Consider strategies to change the way we think and behave relevant to the racial identity of others and ourselves.


March 15, 2022 - Embracing Racial Diversity | Growing Racial Competence

Module Objectives:

  • Analyze the gaps in our knowledge regarding marginalized racial groups and cultures
  • Understand the importance of elevating the histories, perspectives, contributions, and inclusion of marginalized racial groups 
  • Reflect on the benefits of engaging racial diversity


March 22, 2022 - Building Racial Empathy | Enhancing Racial Stamina

Module Objectives:

  • Understand the role of perspective-shifting in racial equity consciousness development
  • Reflect on the effects of empathetic listening in building emotional connectivity across racial differences
  • Consider practices to actively foster open and constructive dialogue on race and racism


March 29, 2022 - Acknowledging Racial Trauma | Fostering Racial Healing

Module Objectives:

  • Reflect on the mental, emotional, and physical impacts of racism
  • Consider strategies to restore wholeness and address the impacts of racism
  • Embrace critical self-analysis, environmental assessment, and coalition-building as drivers of our racial equity conscious development


April 5, 2022 - Gauging Racial Inequities | Championing Racial Justice

Module Objectives:

  • Examine the intersections of race and inequity
  • Develop and deploy practices and policies that aim to foster racial equity
  • Establish norms and strategies for ongoing racial equity conscious development

Questions? Contact diversity@pitt.edu