21 Week Equity Challenge

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We've accepted the challenge.

Will you?

Otsego County United Way is inviting you to a 21-week program designed to encourage Otsego County residents to engage in racial equity learning to foster the understanding of how systemic racism and inequity impact our country, state, and local communities.

Equity Challenge details:

  • 100% FREE to participate.

  • Receive one email per week from Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18, 2021 to Juneteenth on June 19, 2021.

  • Spend around 15 minutes per week completing each challenge activity (example challenge below).

  • Weekly topics include Understanding Systematic Racism, Talking about Race, Personal Bias, among many others.

  • Those that complete all the weekly challenges will be entered into a drawing to win prizes that include continued education materials and United Way swag. 

Sign up today to join your neighbors for the Equity Challenge. United, we can help create a stronger, more equitable Michigan economy and stronger, more inclusive communities.

Example Challenge: 
"Option 1: Consider this model of socialization and look at the different forces at play that reinforce attitudes and beliefs, and also at what can create new patterns.
Option 2: Look at the resources on the RESilience website and see what catches your interest.
Option 3: Listen to some of the stories on the EmbraceRace website that speak to how racial socialization shapes our individual and collective lives."

Catch Up! Previous weeks are below...

Week 1: Happy MLK Day 
Personal Racial Identity

“Not seeing race does little to deconstruct racist structures or materially improve the conditions which people of color are subject to daily. In order to dismantle unjust, racist structures, we must see race. We must see who benefits from their race, who is disproportionately impacted by negative stereotypes about their race, and to who power and privilege is bestowed upon – earned or not – because of their race, their class, and their gender. Seeing race is essential to changing the system.” - Reni Eddo-Lodge

We cannot cease in confronting our country's history and relationship to identity. It is time for us to 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.

Today’s Challenge: How do you think about your racial identity and its relevance to your personal and professional life?

Identity matters. Who we think we are and who others think we are can have an influence on all aspects of our lives. Think about the first time you became aware of your racial identity. What is the first thing that comes to mind? 

Choose as many options as you’d like, and write down how you felt after reading or listening to learning resources below:

Option 1: Listen to this Stateside episode with Eddie Moore, Jr., executive director of The Privilege Institute, about the White Privilege Conference in Grand Rapids creating a space for people to have “tough conversations.”

Option 2: Reference this document to view how people of color develop their racial identity.   

Option 3: Watch one or more of the short videos and reflections from the New York Times on racial identity in America.

Week 2 Challenge:

 Option 1: Listen to the WEMU Washtenaw United radio interview with Yodit Mesfin Johnson, United Way of Washtenaw County’s board chair, on the role implicit bias plays in our lives. She discusses how our biases impact equity and challenges some of her own biases.
Option 2: Go deeper and take Project Implicit Hidden Bias tests, created by psychologists at top universities, to uncover some of your own unconscious biases. Remember, having biases doesn’t make you a bad person—it only makes you human. TIP: Proceed as a guest to access their library of tests and find out your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, skin tone, and other topics.
Option 3: Read one or more of the compelling personal stories featured in the Speak Up Handbook by the Southern Poverty Law Center. We would like to point you to page 19 titled "What Can I do About My Own Bias?" but feel free to use the table of contents on page 2 to explore other topics that interest you. You can also check out the nine tactics to ensure your actions line up with your intentions.
After completing this weeks challenge please submit feedback HERE

Week 3 Challenge:

We begin this weeks challenge on the first day of Black History Month, here are some meaningful words on the month in USA Today.

Paul Hartmann, an Otsego County community member shares thoughts on privilege to begin this challenge.  “One of the more recent terms being heard since the death of George Floyd is ‘white privilege.’  It is not a new concept, certainly going back to the founding of our country when slaves were considered 3/5 of a person. Although I could cite many examples of white privilege and how I benefit from it, here is one example: As White parents, we did not have to give ‘the talk’ to our White sons, warning them about the double standards in our society and the dangers of being Black. Recommended highly: ‘Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent’ by Isabel Wilkenson.”

Week 3: What is Privilege?
Privilege is the unearned social, political, economic, and psychological benefits of membership in a group that has institutional and structural power (source). There are many types of privilege that different groups have in the US. We commonly hear about privilege because of race or gender, but privilege also exists for different groups based on religion, sexuality, ability, class, education level. Read more about 5 common types of privilege.
Having privilege can give you advantages in life, but having privilege is not a guarantee of success.
Today’s Challenge:
Option 1: Take this eye-opening privilege self-assessment by Buzzfeed to discover where you are on the spectrum.
Option 2: Watch this short, powerful Buzzfeed video featuring a privilege walk. See how privilege shows up differently for this group of co-workers. Note: this video may be triggering for some people of color.
Option 3: Watch this video from Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility about how racism isn't only individual acts of discrimination, it is a deeply embedded system that impacts all of our lives.

Though, it is a very personal journey we are keeping track of participation with a brief reflection, to give incentive to keep doing the hard work. We will have some books, United Way items and other swag to distribute to the top 3 participants in June.


Week 4 Challenge

Have you heard of the term “White Fragility?” For white people, “White Fragility” refers to their discomfort and avoidance of racially charged stress, which perpetuates racial inequity. Many people of color, multiracial, and Indigenous people are familiar with this concept, but may not be familiar with the term.
Dr. Robin DiAngelo describes white fragility as a state of being for white people in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves can include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors shut down conversations, and inhibit actions which, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.
Today’s Challenge:
Option 1: Take a quick quiz from the publisher of “White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism,” Robin DiAngelo, PhD, to see if you exhibit “White Fragility” traits. Want to dive in further? Read a short article by Dr. DiAngelo that unpacks how we continue to reproduce racist outcomes and live segregated lives.
Option 2: Listen to Stateside interview with the Detroit Equity Action Lab about what white people can do about racism in America. The episode starts by asking the question ‘What can white people do about racism in America?’ to people walking around Ann Arbor and Northville.
Option 3: Review this list of 28 common racist attitudes and behaviors that indicate a detour or wrong turn into white guilt, denial or defensiveness.
Though, it is a very personal journey we are keeping track of participation with a brief reflection, to give incentive to keep doing the hard work. We will have some books, United Way items and other swag to distribute to the top 3 participants in June.

Week 5 Challenge:

Socialization is a process we all go through – it is how we develop values, habits and attitudes and learn to function in the world.  Understanding the process of socialization can help us understand how we came to where we are in our views of race and racism as well as what we are willing and “able” to do to work for justice.  Watch this short video on “the culture cycle” at play around race in society.
Today’s Challenge:
Option 1: Consider this model of socialization and look at the different forces at play that reinforce attitudes and beliefs, and also at what can create new patterns.
Option 2: Look at the resources on the RESilience website and see what catches your interest.
Option 3: Listen to some of the stories on the EmbraceRace website that speak to how racial socialization shapes our individual and collective lives.

Don't forget to fill out the reflection... HERE.

Week 6 Challenge:

Last Monday In Black History Month

As February comes to an end, we hope you have taken the opportunity to look inside yourself and expand your mind through the different challenges offered. As we move into a new month, prepare to shift your focus from the personal reflection that we have been exploring to a broader view of racial equity and social justice.
Are you seeing and addressing how racism operates at different levels? Dr. Camara Jones, Senior Fellow at the Morehouse School of Medicine, says that in order to address racism effectively, we have to understand how it operates at multiple levels. Often what people think of first and foremost is interpersonal racism. Only seeing this level means that we fail to see the full picture that keeps the system of racism in place.
Today’s Challenge: 
OPTION 1: Check out this short video from Race Forward about the levels and the importance of looking at systemic, not simply individual, racism.
OPTION 2: Watch Dr. Jones’ TED talk on the “Allegories on Race and Racism” where she shares four short stories to help us understand privilege and racism.
OPTION 3: Read a blog post by Cynthia Silva Parker,  which gives an overview of four levels of racism and the need for a systemic approach to seeing and addressing oppression.

Please click the button below complete the reflection survey. You can also backtrack an refelct on prior weeks too! 


Week 7 Challenge:

In Michigan, 63 percent of Black households are struggling to afford basic necessities like housing, child care, food, transportation, and technology, according recently released 2018 ALICE data.  These households, also known as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to cover the basic cost of living, called the ALICE threshold, in their counties.  The 63 percent of Black households falling below the ALICE Threshold was almost double that of white households-just 36 percent. 
During the recovery from the Great Recession, the number of Black households under the ALICE Threshold in Michigan increased by eleven percent from 2010 to 2018, while the number off white households below the Threshold increased by only one percent.  And since COVID 19, in households below the ALICE threshold is even greater.  This means that a very large percentage of parents, especially Black parents have to make trade-offs between necessities like rent or stocking the refrigerator or going without healthcare as a parent to ensure that a child has access to preschool.
We know that where you live and where children are raised can have a strong influence on opportunity. We also know that when these factors are combined with race, people of color are disproportionately impacted. Over the next few days, we will be exploring how ALICE, race, and other factors impact a person’s housing, health, education, financial stability, and more.
Today’s Challenge 
Option 1: Check out the ALICE Report for the State of Michigan (based on 2017 data) and dig down further into your county.
Option 2: See this NY Times article debunking widely held beliefs about income inequality and exploring the disproportionate impact race has on boys.
Option 3: Read about Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist committed to showing how zip code shapes opportunity. Dive 

Please click the button below complete the reflection survey. You can also backtrack an reflect on prior weeks too!