The PAStart Communication Action Series

Racial Equity Toolkit – Prevention Professionals Edition

  • Teens of color are put into policing and surveillance systems at 3x the rate of their white peers with comparable challenges.*
  • BIPOC teens in children and youth services programs experience punitive and negative outcomes at much higher rates than their white peers in these systems.*
  • As a result of the daily onslaught of microaggressions, African American college students experience more depression, self-doubt, frustration, and isolation than their white peers, resulting in a negative impact on their educational success.*
  • Having even one BIPOC mentor can have a life-altering impact on BIPOC teens.*
  • Name racism as the problem. Not “race.”
  • When attempting to de-escalate conflict involving BIPOC program members, never threaten the involvement of police or other authorities to coerce compliance.
  • Solve issues with resources and support, not punishment and isolation.
  • Advocate for racial equity in hiring and among the leadership of your program.
  • Ensure that BIPOC teens meet BIPOC leaders.
  • Always disrupt racist language and behavior in your programs.
  • Address racist language and behaviors with the same seriousness you address sexism, ableism, queer and transphobias, religious bigotry, fatism, and other forms of violence in your program.
  • Educate yourself about how racism has shaped this country, stealing lives, wealth, and opportunity from BIPOC people.
  • Don’t limit talk about BIPOC history or activism to a designated “month” or holiday.
  • Hang posters of BIPOC icons in your program spaces.
  • Choose BIPOC musicians when programming music.
  • Refer to BIPOC individuals when using inspirational quotes or examples of leadership and resilience.
  • Be sure to use writers, thinkers, and activists, as well as athletes, TV personalities, and musicians.
  • Discuss the histories of BIPOC resistance and movement wins more than risks, vulnerabilities, and violence against BIPOC people.
  • Bring in BIPOC people for career days and other kinds of leadership moments that teach about BIPOC brilliance beyond “diversity” messaging.
  • Expect brilliance and leadership from BIPOC kids.
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Make it clear that you believe that racism is wrong, and is a problem.

Center practices that respect and celebrate Black, Indigenous, Asian Pacific Islander and Latinx (BIPOC) people as a powerful counter to systemic racism.

You can demonstrate your racial justice values even if you personally know very little about racial injustice. Young BIPOC leaders are re-shaping policy, culture, and our government. Be willing to learn. Ask, be curious, listen. Shift your language and practices.

Review your curriculum with an eye for racism. What authors, artists, thinkers, social workers, or psychologists are central to the values, interventions, and learning modules that form the core of your program? Is the curriculum white-dominated? If so, advocate for racial equity.

BIPOC kids may not want to talk about racial identity or racism because of traumatic experiences of racist violence. Most young BIPOC people have ingested a high level of terroristic, racist violence first-hand or online. Don’t force participation in conversations about racism. Observe, listen, be responsive.

Have a list of BIPOC-led, trauma-informed programs and therapeutic resources on hand.* Our kids are struggling. All programs should have a list of BIPOC-led, healing resources that are grassroots and community-based — not only programs that have a law enforcement connection.

Ignoring racism or creating a “color blind” environment reinforces racism. Ignoring racism or shutting down discussion of racism with calls for “unity” reinforces racism. Every life in this country has been shaped by racism – for some of us it has meant access to better schools and more opportunities; for others it has meant displacement and violence. For all of us, it has resulted in a tragic loss of life and a threat to our humanity. Denying this reality only creates more division and violence.

BIPOC mentors are crucial to BIPOC youth development. A program cannot claim to oppose racism while maintaining a whites-only leadership or staffing structure. BIPOC kids need to see themselves in the leaders who are shaping their growth.

White mentors play an important role in fighting racism. Having a white mentor who is knowledgeable about racism and vocal about fighting racism can provide critical support to BIPOC teens as they consider how to build constructive interracial friendships.

If you need to mediate complex conversations or solve a significant problem around racism at your program, bring in equity experts. Find BIPOC-led racial equity trainers to mediate conflicts that feel beyond your skill-set or too big to handle.

Racial Equity Communication DOs and DON’Ts

Do become a resource to BIPOC youth who need mentors and support. Don’t force a child to share experiences of racism for the “education” of others.


Now that you know, where do you start? Learning these facts is important. But it’s just as crucial to create a plan for an open dialogue and to be mindful of engaging kids with respect. Positive role modeling, compassion and the truth will go a long way to help you start communicating effectively. Use the following steps and resources to start your own Communication Action Plan.

1. If You Can’t Figure Out How to Talk About Racism and Racial Justice: Educate Yourself
  • There are so many resources online,* you can educate yourself privately.
  • There are racial justice projects and learning groups you can join.
2. If You Think Your Child is Struggling with Racial Identity Due to Racism or Exposure to Racist Violence, Create Openings for a Conversation: Look for Your Moment.
  • Refer to BIPOC-led justice activism or high achieving role models.
  • Provide books that feature BIPOC characters or issues.
  • Invite BIPOC peers to your program and have fun conversations about their amazing lives.
  • Invite diverse racial justice activists to your program to demonstrate how all of us can collaborate effectively to dismantle systemic racism and counter white privilege.
3. You’ve Set the Stage: Now What?
  • Share a story about a new commitment you have made or a new learning you are pursuing to challenge yourself and fight racial injustice.
  • Create opportunities for your kids to consider how they fit into the fight for racial justice.
4. Moving Forward: Don’t Stop!
  • Get ready to learn about BIPOC culture and community among your kids.

Taking a stand against racism isn’t always as cut and dried as it seems, but help is out there and available to you. Resources and more are available on the Use our collection of links, videos and tools to create a strategy that will engage and empower you. They’re all designed to help you get started.