Framing is the process of talking about a subject and paying particular attention to how people hear what is being communicated and how their assumptions influence whether or not they "get" the message in the way you intend. Framing matters significantly with regard to what people take away from messages about race or racism. To name and frame racism is to explicitly and publicly use language and analysis that describe an issue as a matter of racial justice. This paper argues that naming and framing racism are about proactively creating opportunities to do political education about racism.
It advances and describes several reasons why it is important to name and frame racism in organizing and program work:
In order to advance racial justice, it has become necessary to argue the existence of societal racism;
Naming and framing racism reclaim our right to define our own reality;
We cannot defeat (or at least contain) racism unless we name it for what it is;
By naming and framing racism we can take the “mask” off coded language and denial;
Naming and framing racism can help us connect with our constituency, particularly people of color; and
Naming and framing racism can prepare us for post-campaign work.
The Western States Center seeks to support organizations in going through an anti-racist organizational development process. This includes creating shared language and understanding among staff and leaders, exploring current priorities and the racial disparities that exist within these areas, and looking at the organization’s internal culture and process.
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