Q3: When people do talk about race, and they use the dominant model of thinking, how can I get them to focus on policies, programs, and practices as sources of racial disparities?

Don’t try to persuade people that their beliefs are wrong. Instead, find a value focus that is equally dear and compelling to them. The one value that research shows as promising is “opportunity.” Framing issues in terms of opportunity for al

  • Generally avoids debate about the value itself. Who can be against giving people an opportunity?
  • Resonates with the deeply held ideal of America as the land of opportunity.
  • Is better than framing issues in terms of “fairness.” With the fairness frame, focus groups have gotten into detailed debates about what “fair” means and who is deserving (and who isn’t).
  • Almost by definition focuses on policies, programs, and practices because these are all key elements that can impact available opportunities.
  • Avoids an either-or debate about whether personal responsibility or systems are to blame, since opportunity goes hand in hand with personal responsibility. Since this either-or debate is then off the table, the focus can be on barriers to opportunity, and the evidence can highlight how similarly situated individuals encounter very different circumstances in terms of opportunities. For example, white children with college-eligible academic performance enter college at higher rates than African American and Latino children with college-eligible academic performance.

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