2021 Equity Challenge Day 1: Personal Racial & Social Identity

Hardly any aspect of my life, from where I had lived to my education to my employment history to my friendships, had been free from the taint of racial inequity, from racism, from whiteness. My racial identity had shaped me from the womb forward. I had not been in control of my own narrative. It was not just race that was a social construct. So was I.

Tim Wise

Anti-racism writer, educator and speaker

Developing a deeper understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion means we must lean into the complexity of our own personal racial and social identities. How we think about these identities affects many aspects of our lives, and in turn, many aspects of our society. To begin, let’s seek an understanding of the concept of social identity and the difference between race and racial identity.

Race can be defined as “each of the major groupings into which humankind is considered (in various theories or contexts) to be divided on the basis of physical characteristics or shared ancestry.” Racial identity, on the other hand, is understood as “a sense of collective identity that is based on a perceived common heritage with a racial group.” The concept of racial identity takes into account the complexity of lived experiences and systems of power and privilege perpetuated by the ideology of race. Today’s challenge invites us to consider the origins of the concept of race and how our social identities affect how we experience the world.



Read this article to learn the difference between race and racial identity. (6 minutes)


Watch this video to learn how race is a social construct. (3 minutes)

Check out this explainer on the origins of race in American history. (10 minutes)


Fill out this Social Identity Wheel to learn which social groups you belong to. Start a conversation with someone (such as a colleague who is also participating in the Challenge) using the questions provided. (15 minutes)

Reflect And Share

  1. What identities that you hold are you most aware of or think the most about? What consequences do you experience when these identities are ignored or dismissed?
  2. What identities do you hold have been historically privileged? How about disadvantaged?
  3. What did you learn today? If this information is not new to you, how can you use this refresher of information to better understand how you engage in the world around you?
  4. What material from today do you still have questions about or want to learn more about? What are ways you can further explore those questions?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hastag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC21