June 9, 2021

Day 2: Historical Foundations of Race

DAY 2 Of YWCA Spokane’s 14-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

Thank you for dedicating time, space, and energy to your own personal deepening and understanding of concepts related to race, power, privilege, and leadership.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Thank you for taking this challenge! If this is your first day of joining us on this 14-day challenge, welcome. If you are back for more after our first day of the challenge, awesome! We are glad you are here. Each weekday from Tuesday, June 8th through Friday, June 25th, YWCA Spokane will send those who sign up for our challenge emails prompting you to make time to learn about racial equity and social justice.

We encourage everyone to talk about what you are learning with friends, share on social media with #ywcaequitychallenge, and take time to reflect on your personal insights after each challenge using this reflection log. Consider joining our Racial & Social Justice Facebook Group to continue the conversation online and connect with others.

DAY 2: historical foundations of race

When we say “race” what are we talking about? Race has no biological meaning or significance. Race does, however, have a great deal of social significance in everyday life and what opportunities are available to us. Social scientists call the term race a “social construct,” that is, it was invented and given meaning by human beings. It is a trait or set of traits—skin color, hair texture, the shape of one’s eyes—that is used for allocating power and distributing society’s material benefits and burdens.

From the earliest moments in our history, racial group identities granted access to resources and power to those who were “white” while excluding those who were “other” legally, politically, and socially. Attempts to label this systemic categorization a science, such as the Eugenics movement, have been debunked as it has been made clear that the leaders of this movement had no scientific basis for their research. Racial ‘science’ instead falsely blamed minority groups for the consequences of systemic racism, attributing the cause of inequality to genetics, ignoring social and environmental conditions. This race-based system of power and privilege continues to provide false justification for present and past actions such as the enslavement of Africans, the taking of Indigenous lands, the limits set on Asian & Latin American immigrants, and forced sterilizations.

If you have…

5 Minutes


30 Minutes


45 Minutes

and and
Watch this video
that unpacks the origins of race as a social construct.
and Read this interactive article
from the The National Museum of African American History and Culture.
and Listen to this podcast
featuring prominent journalist and researcher, Chenjerai Kumanyika, that takes a deep dive into the history of race and racism.

daily Reflection

Once you have completed today’s challenge, take a moment to reflect on any insights you experienced. How did the challenge make you feel? What is something you learned? Did you notice anything about yourself after taking the challenge? Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information. Consider tracking your reflections on the below daily log or joining our online Facebook group to encourage daily sharing with each other about the challenge topics.

Challenge Reflection Log

Share each challenge online with #YWCAEquityChallenge

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Do you have resources you think we should share? We welcome you to let us know by leaving your comments here

By: Rachel Dannen

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