The Just Action Racial Equity Toolkit was co-created by a citywide community of practice to help Chicago-based civic organizations build new standards of practice for racial equity.

Together with institutional power holders, activists and advocates:

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing."

AUDRE LORDE

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Our work to define and build consensus and action around racial equity in Chicago has uniquely prepared and equipped us to see this moment — the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, anti-Black police brutality, and subsequent uprisings against systemic patterns of racially-based injustice around the world, including here at home — with an uncommon dual lens: skepticism and possibility.

“A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of humankind."

GRACE LEE BOGGS

“Strong people do not need strong leaders."

ELLA BAKER

We have all read the equity statements. Let us be clear: toothless statements can only harm the movement.  History will only remember words that tie to transformation. We cannot simply stand in solidarity. Acting together is what brings that change.

“The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it - no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.”

JAMES BALDWIN

We have witnessed so many of you — also nonprofit leaders, artists, organizers, consultants, lawyers, poets, parents, comadres, tíos, and cousins — call out your own organizations and others, take to the streets and the suites to call for real, radical change. Having spent lifetimes grieving, chanting, singing, teaching and fighting alongside Chicago’s Black and Brown organizers and activists, we have learned that what we need most is each other. 
 
But what does sustained equity in action look like? It starts with a liberated vision of society. Activist and organizer Mariame Kaba recently wrote in a NYTimes Op Ed, “People like me who want to abolish prisons and police...have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation.” The current awareness and demand for an abolitionist framework is just one example of the power of grassroots organizing to shift our understanding of what’s possible, and to embrace a collective radical imagination. In Chicago, where Kaba lived and organized for many years, we are clear that our readiness and willingness to work together to find equitable solutions for local challenges causes ripple effects throughout the entire ecosystem. 

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“What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe."

BELL HOOKS

Each of us started this journey asking ourselves questions. We still use these questions to inspire three key actions in relation to our personal, institutional, and community work: acknowledge history; shift power; and embrace accountability. Today, tomorrow, and until we are all free, we ask each other, and we ask you to:

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ACKNOWLEDGE HISTORY
How has systemic and structural racism shaped historical and current events?

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SHIFT POWER

How do we shift power to groups that have been historically marginalized or harmed?

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EMBRACE ACCOUNTABILITY

How do we set up systems of accountability that value numbers and narratives?

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If you've been wrestling with questions like these in the context of your individual, community or institutional work, we need you in the work to come. Your action may take many forms. We’d like to offer you a place to start, an opportunity to collaborate in committing to making meaningful change, together. 
 
To join Just Action Racial Equity Collaborative and begin building your Just Action Toolkit, sign on to our virtual pledge here.

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Because this has changed us / Will continue to change us / But we have trained for this / We who know the power of a we / We who will not let the fists of policy / Beat the faces of the invisible / We know how to link arms across this CITY

LESLÉ HONORÉ

In solidarity,

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“A revolution that is based on the people exercising their creativity in the midst of devastation is one of the great historical contributions of humankind."

— GRACE LEE BOGGS

Acknowledge History

We begin by acknowledging the history of harm perpetuated through narratives, money, and policy.

Share Power

Then, we collectively reimagine how to shift this power to historically excluded groups.

EMBRACE ACCOUNTABILITY

Finally, we seek to build and embrace accountability to groups most harmed.

Acknowledge History

We begin by acknowledging the history of harm perpetuated through narratives, money, and policy.

Shift Power

Then, we collectively reimagine how to shift this power to historically excluded groups.

EMBRACE ACCOUNTABILITY

Finally, we seek to build and embrace accountability to groups most harmed.

WHAT IS THIS ASSESSMENT?
  • This assessment is intended to serve as a starting point for organizations interested in getting the most out of the Just Action tools and resources. Based on responses to the assessment, resources will be recommended to the organization. 
     

  • This assessment is similar in concept to a 360 review of an organization and allows for engagement of external stakeholders, who can be engaged in both completing the external portion of the assessment and throughout the organization’s journey towards creating an equitable future.

WHO SHOULD COMPLETE THIS ASSESSMENT?

This assessment is designed similar in concept to a 360 evaluation, and consists of two main components, for two different types of stakeholders. 
 

  • The internal component is meant to be completed by a diverse group of internal stakeholders, including by position level, race/ethnicity, and other identities. 

  • The external portion is to be completed by a person or group of people external to the organization. Ideally, this external person or group are stakeholders to whom the organization is accountable (we call this an Accountability Team or A-Team). Members of the Just Action Racial Equity Collaborative are also invited to participate as external assessors of other organizations.

  • If your organization currently does not have an A-team, you will still be able to fully complete this assessment, but will need to work on establishing an A-team. One possibility is to view the list of Just Action collaborators and connect with them as peers to help hold you accountable, while you work to develop an A-team.

WHY SHOULD WE USE THIS ASSESSMENT?
  • The internal assessment allows an organization (which has signed on to Just Action) to better understand where they are on the path of racial equity according to the Just Action theory of change described above. 

  • The external assessment allows external stakeholders to provide a counterpoint or insight into organizational blindspots.

“I am deliberate and afraid of nothing."

— AUDRE LORDE

WHEN SHOULD THE ASSESSMENT BE USED?
  • This assessment tool can be completed at any time. 

  • The internal assessment is designed to be used by organizations when there is a commitment to action based on what the assessment shows; it can be used on an ongoing basis, such as quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

    • Consider the following flow:

      1. Assemble team, review  questions, gather data, communicate widely

      2. Complete Assessment for Pillar 1: Acknowledge History

      3. Explore recommended resources and take action to acknowledge history

      4. Complete Assessment for Pillar 2: Shift Power

      5. Explore recommended resources and take action to shift power

      6. Complete Assessment for Pillar 3: Embrace Accountability

      7. Explore recommended resources and take action to embrace accountability

      8. Repeat flow

  • External stakeholders are also invited to fill out the assessment at any point, as long as they have some experience with the organization they are assessing. 

  • External assessors are also encouraged to complete the assessment in numerical order, and may be invited by the organization to get more involved in the internal process as an Accountability partner, if desired.

“What we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe."

— BELL HOOKS

Website by Studio Brazen

JUST

ACTION

Racial Equity Collaborative

Acknowledge history. Shift power. Embrace Accountability.