Uprooting Inequity offers in-depth, evidence-based remote seminars on the history, economics, and behavioral science of structural racism. All seminars consist of a 90-minute presentation followed by an (optional) 1-hour discussion. The first five seminars trace the history of anti-Black racism in the U.S. and build on each other, and thus are ideally taken in succession. The fifth seminar is a stand-alone educator training workshop.
Seminar Series on the History of Anti-Black Racism in the U.S.
- History of Racism #1. The Origins of Race and Racism (1619-1800s)
- History of Racism #2. The Reproduction of Racism Part A: The Conceptual Framework
- History of Racism #3. The Reproduction of Racism Part B: Historical Applications (1865-2000)
- History of Racism #4. Structural Racism: A Look at the Data
- History of Racism #5. Towards an Equitable “We” Society: Lessons Learned and Directions Forward
Stand-Alone Seminars and Trainings
- The ProEquity Instructional Model: A Perspectives Consciousness and Civics-Based Approach to Antiracist Education
History of Racism #1. The Origins of Race and Racism (1619-1800s)
This first seminar in the history of racism series 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).
History of Racism #2. The Reproduction of Racism Part A: The Conceptual Framework (1865-2000)
This second seminar in the history of racism series answers 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?” I construct a conceptual framework that identifies dynamics that repeat over our history of racism. 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 stymying of initiatives to repair historical discrimination, and the development of greatly overestimated myths of racial progress. Throughout our history, outlawed forms of racial discrimination have repeatedly been reproduced in more legally and morally acceptable forms: ostensibly “race-neutral” policies that have racially disparate impact. These policies have racially disparate impact because they are based on either geography or wealth, which are products of historical discrimination and thus act as proxies for race.
History of Racism #3. The Reproduction of Racism Part B: Historical Applications (1865-2000)
In this third seminar in the series on the history of racism I demonstrate how the conceptual framework outlined in the previous workshop manifested over five major chapters in our history of racism:
- Convict leasing, debt peonage, and sharecropping.
- Historical housing discrimination and redlining.
- School segregation and the U.S.’ quasi-private public school system.
- Voter suppression and Shelby County v. Holder (2013).
- The drug war, mass incarceration, and The New Jim Crow.
History of Racism #4. Structural Racism: A Look at the Data
This presentation, which consists mostly of data and research studies, addresses the questions: 1. What is structural racism? 2. What is the role of the legacy of historical discrimination? 3. How does structural racism affect the racial wealth gap? 4. What is the role of individuals? and 5. How do we know structural racism exists (today)?
I employ the Racial Equity Institute’s “Groundwater Approach” to prove that structural racism exists, by providing data and research studies to demonstrate a. The presence of racial disparities across institutions; b. That is not explained by socioeconomic differences; c. Nor by cultural & behavioral differences. I also provide evidence of racial (residential & school) segregation, and of racial disparities in economic mobility.
History of Racism #5. Towards an Equitable “We” Society: Lessons Learned and Directions Forward
We will assess the proposals of the Black Lives Matter, the Poor People’s Campaign, the Eisenhower Foundation’s “50 Years After the Kerner Report,” and various academic scholars, and policy institutes (think tanks) for dismantling systemic/structural racism and for reducing racial and economic inequity. We will focus on employment/income, housing, education, and health. We will also explore ways that individual families can avoid “opportunity hoarding”. The analysis will be framed within the broad conceptual frameworks: Robert Putnam’s “I vs. We” society (The Upswing, 2020) and Heather McGhee’s “solidarity dividend” (The Sum of Us, 2021).
The ProEquity Model: A Perspectives Consciousness and Civics-Based Approach to Antiracist Education Strategies for Teaching About Race, Racism and Inequity
ProEquity is a K-12 instructional approach for teaching an inclusive and critical/honest curriculum that also fosters perspectives consciousness, civic skills and dispositions, and a shared “we” identity. It is firmly grounded in science and benefits from several years of iterative experimentation and feedback cycles in my high school classroom. The objective is to contribute towards a return to a “we” society (Putnam, 2021; McGhee, 2021), but this time to one that is equitable, inclusive and conscious of differences in culture, identity and power.
The four components include:
- Distinguishing between settled empirical vs. open policy questions (Hess and McAvoy, The Political Classroom, 2014). “Does systemic racism exist?” is a settled empirical question, while “What should government do about racism?” is an open policy question. Educators should not allow students to debate whether systemic racism exists as it is inauthentic and problematic to allow students to debate settled empirical questions (Hess and McAvoy, 2014). This also precludes racist claims that racial disparities are due not to systemic racism but rather to inherent Black inferiority. Instead, educators must a) greatly increase instruction on the history of racism in the U.S. and its present-day legacies, and b) provide opportunities for students of all ideologies to deliberate (debate) open policy questions on race and racism (e.g. affirmative action).
- Using inquiry-based analysis to develop a rigorous understanding of the historical and economic context of societal inequity—particularly in the students’ own communities, and early in the academic year. This develops their ability to address contemporary and future societal challenges.
- Using “value tensions” to frame policy questions as different prioritizations of universally held values on a continuum rather than as “right or wrong” opinions. This fosters civic discourse and reasoning skills and tolerance of differing viewpoints, and encourages a “critical yet hopeful” view of the U.S.
- Using “perspectives consciousness” (Prosocial behavioral science) strategies to foster awareness of how one’s identities and experiences affect both one’s perspectives on policy issues and one’s interpretation of evidence on empirical questions. This fosters psychological flexibility and a shared identity as a “we” society working towards the common good
Ayo Magwood (Uprooting Inequity LLC) is an educational consultant specializing in in-depth, evidence-based education on the history, economics, sociology, and cognitive psychology of structural racism. She also equips institutions with the tools and strategies to foster more productive conversations about racism using her “perspectives consciousness approach.” Her “ProEquity” model is a K-12 instructional approach for teaching an inclusive and critical/honest curriculum that also fosters perspectives consciousness, civic skills and dispositions, and a shared “we” identity. 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.
Ayo is the author of the book chapter “Why ‘Elite’ Independent Schools Can’t Retain Black and Brown Faculty” in K. Swalwell & D. Spikes (Eds.) Anti-Oppressive Education in “Elite” Schools: Promising Practices and Cautionary Tales, Sep. 2021 (available for pre-order), and co-author of the article “Using Conceptual Tensions and Supreme Court Cases to Increase Critical Thinking in Government and Civics Classrooms”, in Social Education Vol. 77 No. 4, Sep 2013.