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Module 2: Understanding and Addressing Systemic Racism


  • Gain a deeper understanding of systemic racism.
  • Learn how some students experience racism, and the impact of those experiences.
  • Consider how interactions with students can change to better support students who experience racism.


To effectively support students, it is important to understand the impact of systemic racism on our American institutions, and our students as people who are striving to succeed and overcome barriers that may hinder their quest for an education. People working across campuses, in every capacity, can contribute to the adoption of practices that can mitigate the impact of racism on students. Some who view these resources will have experienced racism in deeply personal ways. Some may feel uncomfortable.

As people who work with college and university students, we have a responsibility to not only have empathy for our students, but to also adopt anti-racist practices that help to ensure more equitable outcomes for all students.

The content in this module can help users:

  • Understand the concept of systemic racism.
  • Recognize how systemic racism may impact students’ experiences.
  • Become better at recognizing ways to address systemic racism in day-to-day interactions with students.
  • Consider how to modify business office processes, communications, and interactions with a commitment to anti-racism.

Tips for Using This Module

  • Group Meetings and Staff Training: Select and share videos that support your goals during staff meetings. Use the Featured Video Worksheet (below) with groups, or as an individual.
  • Onboarding New Staff: Integrate resources into onboarding materials for new hires.
  • Individual Professional Development: Provide access to resources to staff to support their personal learning goals and professional growth.

Introducing the Topic of Systemic Racism

Use these brief videos to kickstart the conversation during your staff-training session.

What is Systemic Racism?

This video is (2:43)

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This is Equity

This video is (6:45)

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Reflection Questions

After watching the introductory videos, encourage participants to think about or share their thoughts.

  • When you think about systemic racism and its impact on the students on your campus, knowing your campus, and your students are unique in many ways, what comes to mind?
  • When you watched the video with public school students talking about their challenges and dreams as they prepare to go to college, what do you imagine your campus could do to be a place that is ready to welcome and support those students all the way through to degree completion?

Featured Video

Use this video and worksheet as a starting point for you or your team. Learn how to take steps to become anti-racists and build a campus where every student feels a sense of belonging and can assess the support needed to succeed.

Featured Video: How To Be An Antiracist

Ibram X. Kendi, Author, How to Be an Antiracist with James Fallows, Staff Writer, The Atlantic (19:19)

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Follow-up Worksheet

Use this worksheet as a follow-up activity with your team or staff members.

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In-Depth Videos

Use these videos to take a deeper dive into the topic of systemic racism during your staff training.

Confronting Racism in Higher Education

Discussion on how to confront racism in universities in both the US and UK. (1:01:13)

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Dismantling White Supremacy in Education

Dismantling White Supremacy in Education | Noelle Picara | TEDxYouth@UrsulineAcademy (9:43)

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Let's Get to the Root of Racial Injustice

Megan Ming Francis | TEDxRainier (19:37)

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The Symbols of Systemic Racism—and How to Take Away Their Power

Paul Rucker (7:01)Watch Now

Additional Print Resources

Download these print resources for to use in staff-training or as an individual.

Articles and News Items

Visit these online periodicals and magazines and print them for your staff-training or as an individual.


How to Promote Racial Equity in the Workplace

A Five-Step Plan By Robert Livingston, Harvard Business Review

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Learning for Justice

Learning for Justice seeks to uphold the mission of the Southern Poverty Law Center: to be a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond.

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Explore available books and resources to continue learning and expanding your knowledge on systemic racism.


Subtle Acts of Exclusion

By: Dr. Tiffany Jana

The first practical handbook that helps individuals and organizations recognize and prevent microaggressions so that all employees can feel a sense of belonging.

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The Racial Healing Book

By Dr. Anneliese A. Singh; Joanne L. Bagshaw; and Stacee L. Reicherzer

A powerful and practical guide to help you navigate racism, challenge privilege, manage stress and trauma, and begin to heal.

Learn More

Downloadable Workbooks and Guides

These print resources offer an in-depth look at systemic racism and how to address it.


Anti-Racism Resource Guide

This training guide has many options for activities, resources, reflection questions, and ways to engage with anti-racism training for students and staff. This guide is based on the Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies.

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Anti-Racist Toolkit

The purpose of this toolkit is to support dialogue about racism within the Stanford staff community, and engage and unite the community in actions that will advance racial justice.

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