Anti-Racism Approach


This training approach examines racial oppression, white privilege, power, and social justice. It examines systemic forces that affect race relations and highlights the ways in which privileges for white people historically have been legitimized and perpetuated for centuries through laws, economics, and political and social institutions. It also stresses that white people have a responsibility to learn about white privilege and to become allies in the fight against racism. In some cases, the approach has been modified to address multiple issues in addition to racism, such as sexism and homophobia. In this case, the training is usually referred to as Anti-Oppression or Social Justice training. (See Bibliography: Spring Institute)

The Colorado Progressive Coalition describes anti-racism work this way: "Anti-Racism work and confronting white privilege is not about diversity, nor is it about cultural sensitivity... To understand racism, we must first look at discrimination and have a comprehensive understanding of its impacts... Discrimination has been a part of this country's institutions, founding documents, even the first actions more than 500 years ago when extermination and colonization of North America's indigenous people and land began. Discrimination has seen many different phases in this nation." (See Bibliography: Shapiro; DeRosa)

This type of training approach is designed to incorporate training at all three levels (individual, intergroup, and systemic). However, its ultimate purpose is to help people understand the systemic nature of racism. Though anti-racism trainings often start with individuals identifying their own cultural identity (similar to an intercultural/valuing differences approach), training will usually move quickly into understanding how cultural identities have been strongly influenced by historical and systemic factors (e.g., white male privilege was given institutional legitimacy in the U.S. Constitution which only allowed men who owned land to vote.) As training expert Patti DeRosa writes, "anti-racism holds that the core culture and institutional structures must fundamentally change, while recognizing that changes in our personal attitudes are also essential." (See Bibliography: Shapiro)

This approach is firmly grounded in a commitment to exploring differences and similarities between groups. Change will only be possible, according to an anti-racism approach, when people understand the historic and systemic factors, including colonization and oppression, which have contributed to different cultural experiences and identities. Similarities are also explored. Often, this training approach helps people examine how they are in some aspects members of an "in group" (and the privileges that go along with that) and in some aspects they are members of an "out group" (and the prejudice and discrimination that go with that). This kind of exploration helps people explore parallels, intersections, and distinctions among identities and experiences.


Overview: Training Approaches

Intercultural/Valuing Differences Approach

Prejudice Reduction Approach  

Benefits and Limitations of Training Approaches

Selecting a Training Approach