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Leadership and Civic Engagement

Division of Student Life and Enrollment


21 Day Antiracism Challenge

Starting Monday, February 1 - Monday, March 1

Challenge Introduction

Why 21 days? It is been told that it takes a person 21 days to break a habit. Learning how to be an antiracist is more like a lifestyle change than a habit. But through the methodology of this challenge, we hope that students can begin the process of becoming antiracist one day at a time.

The goal of this challenge is to make students at ETSU more aware of their own biases and privileges while building a better foundation of knowledge regarding Black history, civil rights, and antiracism. As part of this opportunity, students are engaging in important work that at times may be uncomfortable or emotional. Students should lean into those feelings and get friends involved for a more enriching experience.

Each week there will be two journal entries with prompts for students to reflect upon the material and personal experience. Keeping a journal will help students through this process. Halfway through the Challenge and at the end of the 21 days, registered participants will come together for a Zoom meeting to reflect and discuss their experiences.

Let us know you are participating by registering here.

All registered participants will receive regular communication to include additional materials for learning and announcements of relevant programs and activities for which participation is encouraged.

“When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid,
the new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it."
Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb"

Week 1

  • Day 1 (Monday, February 1)

    Today is the first day of Black History Month. February highlights and honors the contributions of Black people in the United States past and present. It is the perfect time to begin your antiracist journey. The theme for 2021’s Black History Month is “The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity.” To learn more about the origins of Black History Month, watch the following video:
    Origins of Black History Month

    Open your journal and reflect on your reasons for participating in the 21 Day Antiracism Challenge.

    Journal Prompt: Consider your motivations and values.

    · Why did you register for this challenge?

    · What personal changes do you want to make?

    Be sure to participate in ETSU’s Black History Month kickoff event tonight at 5 PM on Zoom: Black History Month Kickoff Event

  • Day 2 (Tuesday, February 2)

    Today, your challenge is to read this piece about white privilege.

    Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

    Then, take one or more of Harvard University’s implicit bias tests. These assessments provide you an opportunity to evaluate your own biases. The race and skin tone tests are a good starting place. Please take as many of the tests as you would like.

    Implicit Bias Test

  • Day 3 (Wednesday. February 3)

    On this day in 1870, the 15th amendment was ratified, prohibiting state or federal government from denying people of color the right to vote. But voter suppression remains a big issue to this day. Stacey Abrams has made it her mission to register more people of color to vote. She has been praised for her work in Georgia and the impact she has made on American elections.

    Watch Stacey Abrams on Voter Suppression

    Ask the people around you if they are registered to vote, especially friends that are close to turning 18 years old.

  • Day 4 (Thursday, February 4)

    It’s Rosa Parks’ birthday! Parks is known as the “mother of the freedom movement” and “the first lady of civil rights” because of her pivotal role in the Montgomery bus boycott. Parks disrupted the status quo and was ultimately arrested when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955. Though she died in 2005, Parks’ legacy will continue live on. To honor Rosa Parks, watch this video: PBS Interview with Rosa Parks

  • Day 5 (Friday, February 5

    The 13th amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on January 31st, 1865. This abolished slavery but left behind a troubling loophole. To recognize that moment in American history, watch the Netflix film "13th" on YouTube for free.


    Journal Prompt: You have learned this week that it is not enough to simply be “not racist.” Part of the challenge of antiracism is that you must confront the bias and racism in your own thinking. You must also be ready to confront bias and racism in others as well.

    · Have you ever described yourself as “not racist” or “colorblind”? What did you mean by that?

    · How does being antiracist take it a step further?

    · What does an antiracist world look like to you?

Week 2

  • Day 6 (Monday, February 8)

    Journal Prompt: Though we have a month dedicated to celebrating Black voices and achievements, it is also a time to think about how we can all create a more antiracist space in our homes, classrooms, offices, and even in our virtual spaces.

    · Describe an instance or experience from your life that influences how you talk and think about race and racism.

    · Growing up, did you see or hear racist things being done or said in your social spaces? How has that affected you today?

  • Day 7 (Tuesday, February 9)

    Explore this list of the 44 most influential African Americans that “shook the world.”

    44 African Americans That Shook the World

  • Day 8 (Wednesday. February 10)

    What does it mean to be antiracist? Read the following article about what it means and why it is not enough to simply be “not racist.”

    6 ways to be antiracist, because being 'not racist' isn't enough

  • Day 9 (Thursday. February 11)

    After Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first Black president in 2008, there seemed to be a shift in the country’s discussions about race. Many believed that we had entered a “post-racial” America. Despite the historic nature of Obama’s presidency, he couldn’t single-handedly end racism and discrimination in the United States

    It is important to remember that racism in America remains a deeply embedded problem that affects all our lives. Today your challenge is to learn about the different aspects and forms of systemic racism. As you watch the videos, consider how systemic racism affects you.

    What Is Systemic Racism?

  • Day 10 (Friday, February 12)

    Looking for new music? Start your weekend off right by celebrating Black artists, writers, and musicians. Browse through these playlists and listen to their message.

    10 Influential Songs to Celebrate Black History Month
    Apple Music: Black History Month
    Spotify: Black History Month

    Journal Prompt: So far you have learned about influential Black artists, community organizers, and civil rights leaders. Ensuring that our sphere of influence is diverse is so important, especially on social media and in the entertainment industry. Representation matters. Evaluate your social media accounts and ask 3 friends to do the same thing.

    · Who do you follow on social media? Are they all white?

    · How can you diversify your feed and support people of color online?

Week 3

  • Day 11 (Monday, February 15)

    American history is swathed in racism. From its inception the United States has ignored, silenced, abused, and killed people of color. Slavery in America lasted 400 years, resulting in generational trauma and systemic racism that haunts us to this day. It is considered America’s greatest sin.

    To learn more about slavery in America, visit PBS’s special collection of videos, articles, and photographs: Slavery in America

    Journal Prompt:

    · White supremacy doesn’t just benefit the dominant (white) culture--it normalizes it. Can you think of ways that you’ve participated in normalizing white culture, at the expense of other cultures?

    · How did your American history classes in elementary, middle, and high school impact your perspective of racism?

    Reflection in Community: Attend a reflection discussion where you can share your experiences with others who will participate in the challenge. Details will be sent to all registered participants at a later date.

  • Day 12 (Tuesday, February 16)

    ETSU’s Sherrod Library offers many antiracism resources for students including books, videos, and podcasts. Go through their collection to find a podcast or video to watch of your choosing. Encourage a friend to watch or listen it to it with you.

    Sherrod Library Antiracism Resources

  • Day 13 (Wednesday, February 17)

    It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Make an intentional choice to do or say something kind today to someone you don’t know. There are many ways to embody the spirit of the holiday.

    “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” -- Maya Angelou

  • Day 14 (Thursday, February 18)

    The murder of Emmett Till remains one of the most consequential moments leading up to the civil rights movement in America. Visit Emmett Till from Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Images of All Time” slideshow. Warning: the image you are about to see is graphic.

  • Day 15 (Friday, February 19)

    Journal Prompt: Your challenge is to root out the racism and bias that exists in your day-to-day life. Speak up when you see it and speak out before it can happen again.

    · How are you seen as privileged? Examples may include your race, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental health, financial status, or social status.

    · What are some things you have gotten away with because of that privilege?

    · How can you use your privilege to dismantle racism in your family, workplace, or in the classroom?

Week 4

  • Day 16 (Monday, February 22)

    Explore ways in which you can combat racism in your day-to-day life by reading though Emory University’s Anti-Racism Action Guides. “Recognizing and Responding to Microaggressions” is a great guide to familiarize yourself with. You will learn how to respond to microaggressions and what to do if you commit a microaggression.

    Antiracism Action Guides

    Journal Prompt:

    · Think back to a time where you saw someone perform a microaggression or say something racist and you did nothing about it. Describe that moment.

    Do you regret not speaking up?

    · If you could redo that moment, what would you say instead?

    · What happened as a result of you not speaking up?

  • Day 17 (Tuesday February 23)

    Watch this interview with the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors, and Opal Tometi discuss the issues that Black people are facing today, what they have learned about leadership, and what gives them hope.

    Ted Talk: An Interview with the Founders of Black Lives Matter

  • Day 18 (Wednesday, February 24)

    Human rights lawyer and author of “Just Mercy,” Bryan Stevenson, gives a stunning and engaging presentation about mass incarceration and America’s criminal justice system.

    Ted Talk: Bryan Stevenson Talks About Injustice

  • Day 19 (Thursday, February 25)

    John Lewis, born on February 21, 1940, is an iconic figure that fought for civil rights alongside Martin Luther King Jr. To learn more about his life, you can watch Remembering John Lewis

    John Lewis dedicated his life to public service and shed blood in the fight for equality. Lewis passed away in July 2020, but his message and legacy lives on.

    You can also read about the recent effort to rename the 1965 Voting Rights Act: Renaming the Voting Rights Act After John Lewis

  • Day 20 (Friday, February 26)

    Civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr were both tragically assassinated a few years apart from each other. Both men played a vital role in the civil rights movement and have inspired generations of Americans. To learn more about Malcom X and MLK, listen to NPR’s Terry Gross’s conversation with author and scholar Peniel Joseph.

    Black Power Scholar Illustrates How MLK And Malcolm X Influenced Each Other

    Journal Prompt: Evaluate how this 21-day challenge has made you feel. List some emotions down in your journal, then answer the following questions:

    · How can you embody a spirit of teachability and humility when it comes to antiracism and social justice issues?

    · Can you listen to others without getting defensive?

    · How can you keep yourself motivated to continue antiracist work once this challenge ends?

Week 5

  • Day 21 (Monday, March 1)

    Reflection in Community: Attend one of two reflection discussions where you can share your experiences with others who will participate in the challenge. We’ll host one of these sessions at noon and another at 4:30 p.m. Details will be sent to all participants at a later date.

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