Q4: Data make a strong case about embedded racial inequities, but some people still don’t get it. Why?

Research shows that “narrative trumps numbers.” That is, if people see numbers that don’t fit the model they use in thinking about race, they’ll reject the numbers. For example, suppose you present statistics about disparities in juvenile detention that show that even when youth of different racial groups behave the same way, African American, Latino, and Native American youth are disproportionately detained compared to their white counterparts. People wed to the dominant model of the self-making person will still attribute the explanation for those numbers to some unspecified fault of the youth of color themselves. Their dominant narrative trumped your well-researched numbers. Your goal is to provide an alternative model they will embrace as a prelude to providing numbers. Your model must contain a value that trumps the dominant model (i.e., people embrace it) and must present that value first before presenting the data so that they can “hear” the data with a storyline that prepares them for it.

For example, “All youth should have the same opportunity to pay for their mistakes. Yet that isn’t what we see when we look at ….”

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