New 'Racism 101' Project From LAist Aims To Facilitate Deeper Conversations

(Photo illustration by Chava Sanchez/LAist)

We've seen widespread protests calling out racism and demanding a broadening of the way we look at the world beyond the establishment/white-centered view. We've also seen an uptick in people being targeted for their race/ethnicity. We've heard of groups being blamed for COVID-19. We've seen people mocked for their ethnic dishes.

At the same time, many people — particularly white people — are having to reconsider their place in the world and the role they may play in inequity.

WHY WE CREATED RACISM 101

George Floyd's killing and the protests that followed changed how, when, why we talk about race. We produced our Unheard LA: A Deeper Listen back in July to provide a platform for these important conversations about race. We invited past Unheard LA storytellers to discuss their experiences with race in our community, and the talk got real. People in the comments section joined in with questions too, but we didn't have a way to address everything that came up. The answer was what became Racism 101. Our intention with this new project is to hold space for the community to safely ask questions and discuss race with us — and with each other.

WHAT IS RACISM 101?

In efforts to build off the strong conversations about race and racism that came out of our Unheard LA: A Deeper Listen series with Race In LA, we're also taking your questions — from cultural differences like hairstyles and music to what it feels like to be racially profiled. They'll be answered by a diverse panel of voices who will respond based on their own personal lived experiences. In addition, we've also created a "starter kit" to help you facilitate and guide conversations, like those which resulted from our Deeper Listen virtual event series, about race and racial issues that can be tough to manage on your own.

WHAT'S THE PROJECT TIMELINE?

Monday, Oct. 12

Callout for questions posted (click here to ask a question or scroll to the bottom of the page)

Monday, Oct. 19

Racism 101 webpage published with the conversation toolkit and resources, and details on the on our answer panelists

Monday, Oct. 26

Responses to questions will begin to be posted to Racism 101 webpage. The project can be accessed at laist.com/racism101

Friday, Nov. 13

Last day to submit a question to be answered by our answer panel

HOW DO I ASK A QUESTION FOR THE PROJECT?

We've created a Hearken callout for people to ask questions they've always wanted to ask or have been too scared/unsure how to ask about race and racial issues.

We've assembled a small, diverse group of people with strong voices and opinions to answer those questions. Our panel is made up of 12 individuals, several from our newsroom, but mostly community members from around L.A. They are men and women. Some have kids, are single or have partners. They range in age from 30s to 60s. They identify as cisgender and queer. They identify as Native American and Asian American and Latinx, Black, mutliracial, Hawaiian and white. We tried our best to represent a cross-section of Angelenos' multifaceted cultural, racial and ethnic diversity.


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We won't post any details about who asked the question, but we do ask that all submissions are respectful and civil. We'll try to provide a response to every question that comes in — as text, audio and video (depending on what fits best) — that will be shared on our Racism 101 webpage. We'll be transparent as to who provided the answer. We'll continue taking your questions through Friday, Nov. 13. We'll post the last answers from our panelists the following week.

WHAT'S INCLUDED IN THE RACISM 101 CONVERSATION TOOLKIT?

Racism 101 may sound like a formal learning experience to you. We promise — it's not. It was produced to be approachable, contextual and self-paced.

DISCUSSION GUIDE

The discussion guide is organized into five chapters. Each chapter centers around a racial issue that's controversial and has multiple aspects to approach it from. There is no right or wrong answer, per se.

The chapters get increasingly more difficult and complex to discuss. Each chapter includes:

  • Short explainer that summarizes the main points of the issue
  • Contextual resources on the topic to learn more about the issue before you start your discussion (if you feel you need a more information to have an informed discussion)
  • Talking points to guide your discussion

RESOURCE LISTS

To talk intelligibly about these types of issues, you have to have a baseline understanding of what the issues actually are. To that end, We're providing a buffet of resources to help you learn.

General resources

Anti-racism essays, podcasts, videos and books

Justice in June

Through an agreement with Justice in June, we'll be co-publishing their 30-day anti-racism read/watch/listen/act plans in their entirety as a mobile-friendly, downloadable resource guide.

For Us, By Us

This section includes content produced by creators of an affinity group from the perspective of that group with an eye to speaking to that group. In creating this list, we worked diligently to omit narratives that perpetuated stereotypes or pigeonholed people or tokenized their communities.

WHO IS RACISM 101 FOR?

You — and your friends, family, coworkers, neighbors...anybody in your circle who you want to engage in real talk about race and the issues that surround it. Be warned: This won't be easy. It might cause discomfort and result in some awkward moments. That's OK.

Doing the "work" to have these conversations at all is where we have to start to gain insight and understanding into why the people around us hold certain perspectives and to healthily discuss the lived experiences that shape them.

Dana Amihere and Giuliana Mayo contributed to this project.

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ASK US ANYTHING

The Racism 101 webpage will be published on Monday, Oct. 19. You can find it at laist.com/racism101

Until then, what's something you'd like to know or better understand when it comes to the experiences and insights of people from backgrounds other than yours?