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Uprooting Inequity offers evidence-based remote workshops on the history, economics, and psychology of racism. Although all six workshops are stand-alone, the first four workshops trace the history of anti-Black racism in the U.S. and build on each other, and thus are ideally taken in succession. In particular, workshop #4 will not make much sense without first taking workshops #1-3. All presentations are followed by an optional 1-hour discussion (durations indicated are only for the presentation portion).

Workshop #1: The Origins of Race and Racism (colonial era), 1.5 hours 

This workshop answers the questions “How and why were the Black and White races developed” and “How and why was anti-Black Racism developed?”  I trace the historical evolution of the social construction of race from the early colonial period when the colonies were still a class-based society like in England, through the middle colonial period when the Black-White racial binary and a race-based caste system was constructed through laws. Through the primary source evidence, we learn that racism did not lead to slavery, but rather, slavery lead to racism. I also present evidence to demonstrate that racism–the myth of Black racial inferiority–was the narrative that white elites/slave owners created (“the story we tell”) to both rationalize slavery (economic interests) and divide poor Whites and Blacks (political interests).

Workshop #2: The Mythology of Racial Progress and Reproduction of Racism (1865-2000), 2.5 hours 

This second workshop in the history of racism series is longer as it covers the entire period of 1865-2000. In this workshop, I answer the questions “Why has there been so little progress in racial economic equity in the 57 years since the Civil Rights Act?”and “Why do most Americans so vastly overestimate racial economic progress?” In the first half of this workshop, I construct a conceptual framework that identifies dynamics that repeat over our history of racism. I argue that white resistance to racial progress—not just explicit white backlash but also covert resistance such as ‘opportunity hoarding’—has led to the recurring reproduction of racism in new forms, the relative failure of racial progress initiatives, and the development of greatly overestimated myths of racial progress. During the second half of the workshop, I demonstrate how those patterns manifested over the major chapters in our history of racism: convict leasing, housing discrimination, school segregation, voter suppression, and the Drug War (the “New Jim Crow”). I also present evidence demonstrating that this mythology of racial progress has contributed to the urban uprisings of the 1960s, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement (including the George Floyd uprising) in the 2000s, and the strengthening of white nationalism (including the attack on the Capitol) in the 2000s.

Workshop #3: Understanding Structural Racism and the Racial Wealth Gap Today (2000-Present)

Available as of March 2021.

Workshop #4: Dismantling Racism: Developing Action Plans on the National, Community and Individual levels.

Available as of April 2021.

Workshop #5: Strategies for Fostering Challenging Yet Safe Discussions on Racism, 1-1.5 hours

Middle and high school discussions on racism are often unproductive or inflammatory because:

  1. Most students lack evidence-based knowledge of present-day systemic racism and the legacy of historical discrimination. In the absence of this knowledge, students rely on erroneous preconceptions, universalize their personal experiences with racism as absolute truth, treat structural racism as an ideological belief, deny it exists, and instead blame racial disparities on Black inferiority
  1. Anti-racist curriculum and programming often focuses on individual (rather than structural) racism and often imposes liberal beliefs on open policy issues.

To address these interrelated challenges, I recommend distinguishing between closed empirical vs. open policy questions (Hess and McAvoy, The Political Classroom, 2014). “Does systemic racism exist” is a closed empirical question, while “What should government do about racism” is an open policy question. Educators should not allow debate over settled empirical questions. This will preclude racist claims that racial disparities are instead due to inherent Black inferiority. Instead, educators should welcome conservative opinions in discussion on race-related, open policy questions (e.g. affirmative action).

To address the second challenge, I recommend that educators teach students a “perspectives consciousness” approach to understanding current issues: recognizing that our differing viewpoints are the product of our distinct identities (“positionality”), as well as of our different lived experiences in segregated neighborhoods. We will only be able to understand current issues when we seek to understand the perspectives of various stakeholder groups.

Workshop #6: Does Structural Racism Exist? A Look at the Data, 1 hour

This presentation addresses the questions “What is structural racism?”, “Does structural racism exist today?” and “How does structural racism manifest in X specific sector?” I employ the Racial Equity Institute’s “Groundwater Approach” to assess whether systemic racism exists: I provide data evidence to demonstrate 1. The presence of racial disparities across institutions; 2. That are not explained by socioeconomic differences; 3. Nor by cultural & behavioral differences. In addition, I also provide data/research to provide evidence of racial (residential and school) segregation and Black vs. White economic mobility. Finally, I demonstrate how systemic/structural racism manifests in a sector of the client’s choice (education, health, etc.)

Ayo Magwood (Uprooting Inequity LLC) is an educational consultant specializing in anti-racist education. Her areas of expertise include helping individuals and institutions to deepen their understanding of racism and social justice issues through the disciplines of history, economics, political science, sociology, and cognitive psychology. She also equips institutions with the tools and strategies to foster more productive conversations about racism using her “perspectives consciousness approach.” She has over 10 years of classroom experience in both majority low-income Black/Latino charter schools and majority high-income White private schools. Ayo has a B.A. in economics and international relations from Brown University and a M.Sc. in applied economics from Cornell University.

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