Experience from around the country shows that discussing racial inequity and promoting racial justice are particularly challenging today. Some Americans have long been skeptical about the continued existence of racial discrimination and unequal opportunity. But with the historic election of an African American president, that skepticism is more widespread and more vocal than ever. President Obama’s important political victory, in other words, threatens to eclipse the large body of evidence documenting the continuing influence of racial bias and other barriers to equal opportunity. The current economic crisis, moreover, has fostered a welcome discussion of socioeconomic inequality, but often to the exclusion of racial injustice.
This memo sets out 10 principles that can help facilitate productive communications on racial justice problems and solutions. It is intended for communications with “persuadables”—that is, audiences who are neither solidly favorable nor unfavorable on these issues, but are capable of persuasion through the right approaches. This includes large segments of the U.S. public, as well as many journalists, policymakers, and opinion leaders who influence the public debate. The recommendations are derived from public opinion and media research as well as practical experience over the last year.