Why Race Matters: History, Systems, and Strategies

Greater Spokane Progress (GSP) offers the Why Race Matters Workshops to regional organizations and institutions to develop a collective understanding and common language around institutional and structural racism, and why addressing race matters. Using the acclaimed documentary “Race: The Power of an Illusion,” the workshop addresses how racial inequities have been build into institutions and structures throughout our country, why it is important to use a racial equity lens, and what we can do to advance racial equity in our organizations and in our community.

GSP’s Racial Equity Committee coordinates racial equity workshops that are led by a multi-racial team of facilitators. GSP works with host organizations to tailor the one-day 8-hour training or two-day 4-hour training to address the needs of their organization and the specific systems they work in.

This workshop has been designed to provide a foundation for further racial equity work. It is based on 4 recognitions and is designed to achieve 5 objectives:

Recognition #1 – We live in a highly racialized society: race matters in our society. When we look at any measure of social indicators (income, education, health, criminal justice, etc.) a racial fault line runs through them. Indeed, there is not a single social indicator in which there is NOT a disparity based on race – including poverty. In our society, most of the time when we talk about race or racism we focus on individual bigotry or individual actions. Instead, we should focus on the systems that continue to create results showing this racial fault line of disparity based on race.

Recognition #2 – We’re ALL part of the picture. White people usually view racism as something that happens to “other people” – like walking through an art museum and studying a painting on the wall entitled “Racism in the U.S.” But none of us are just looking at the picture; we’re all IN the picture.

Recognition #3: None of us asked for this. None of us are responsible for the past; but all of us are responsible for the present and, to some extent, the future.

Recognition #4: As we talk about racial equity, racism continues to play out.

This workshop has been designed to provide a foundation for further racial equity work. Our objectives are to:

  1. Examine beliefs about race, advantage and justice, and how these issues impact our communities and workplaces.
  2. Gain awareness of how the creation and history of racism continues to impact us.
  3. Define terms: Institutional Racism, Structural Racism, and Explicit & Implicit Biases.
  4. Discuss examples of institutional racism and begin to think about solutions.


We use episodes of the acclaimed documentary series “Race: The Power of an Illusion.” Here are three short clips from Episodes 2 and 3, which we view in full and discuss in the workshop:

Race: The Power of an Illusion, Episode 2: The Story We Tell
Race: The Power of an Illusion, Episode 3: The House We Live In

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