Uprooting Inequity offers evidence-based remote seminars on the history, economics, and psychology of 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. In particular, seminar #5 in the series will not make much sense without first taking seminars #1-4. The last two seminars are both stand-alone.
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 1: The Conceptual Framework (1865-2000)
- History of Racism #3: The Reproduction of Racism Part 2: Historical Applications (1865-2000)
- History of Racism #4: Regression in Racial Equity (2000-Present)
- History of Racism #5: Dismantling Racism: Solutions on the Policy and Individual levels.
Stand-Alone Seminars and Trainings
- What is Structural Racism and How Does It Work? A Look at the Data
- Educator Strategies for Teaching About Race and Racism
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 1: 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 2: 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: Regression in Racial Equity (2000-Present)
Available as of April 2021.
The last two decades have seen an increase in the Black-White wealth gap, an increase in concentrated Black poverty, and a decrease in income mobility. We will explore the principal factors behind this development: deindustrialization, economic deregulation, the subprime mortgage crisis, a decline of unions, a rise in economic inequality, an increase in exclusionary zoning, a rollback of civil rights protections, mass incarceration, and unequal access to high-quality K-12 schools and institutions of higher education.
History of Racism #5: Dismantling Racism: Potential Public Policies & Individual Actions
Available as of May 2021.
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).
Educator Strategies for Teaching About Race, Racism and Inequity
I recommend a two-pronged approach for discussing and teaching about race and racism:
- Educators should distinguish 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 to deliberate (debate) open policy questions on race and racism (e.g. affirmative action).
- Meanwhile, educators should simultaneously teach students a “perspectives consciousness” approach to deliberating controversial open policy 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. To successfully develop policy solutions that benefit the common good, we must understand the perspectives of other stakeholder groups–even if we don’t necessarily agree with them. Strategies to foster perspectives consciousness include the Blind Men and the Elephant simulation, deliberation (vs. debate), and perspectives-taking.
What Is Structural Racism and How Does It Work? 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.
I can also focus on the role of structural racism in specific sectors:
K-12 Education. First, I demonstrate how our nation’s practice of funding K-12 public schools results in the replication of housing segregation in schools, and creates an essentially quasi-private public school system where quality of public education directly correlates with family wealth. Then we explore the role of opportunity hoarding by wealthy (white) families in reproducing school segregation and in hoarding access to high-quality school resources.
Higher Education. I explore many of the factors that have rigged college admissions and completion in favor of wealthy whites and resulted in higher education becoming an engine of societal inequality instead of an engine of social mobility: unequal access to quality K-12 education, AP classes and gifted programs; public disinvestment in public universities, unequal access to private SAT/ACT prep, etc.
Housing. I describe how present-day policies and practices reinforce and exacerbate the racial geographic segregation and concentrated black poverty entrenched by historical racial discrimination. We then explore the many ways that geography (where one lives) significantly affects access to opportunities and resources.
Health. I demonstrate how systemic/structural racism manifests in the health sector, using the case studies of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. I identify the roles played by historical discrimination, systemic/structural racism, structural poverty, and individual bias.
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.