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What Now?

  • Community Impact
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Organizers of the Diversity Forum 2021 Dismantling Oppressive Systems: Building Just Communities emphasize that addressing systemic inequities and contributing to racial healing involve a process of proactive individual actions and strategies we practice over a lifetime.

Here are five actions you can take now.

1. View or listen to a session you missed

There were 80 featured sessions and workshops on topics ranging from environmental justice to transgender rights, health equity and more. Recordings of all sessions are available on the Diversity Forum 2021 Canvas course site.

2. Do some internal work and then share with others

Anneliese Singh, who describes racial healing as “an inside job” presented steps from her book, “The Racial Healing Handbook,” in the final event of the Diversity Forum, Building Community-Supported Healing: New Traditions on Thursday, July 29.

Singh, chief diversity officer at Tulane University and a scholar who has researched the resilience developed by trans and non-binary people in resisting discrimination, suggests that one of the most healing things you can do following the Diversity Forum is to go back into your unit or workplace and discuss how you are changing it moving forward. Some of her tips include:

  • Know your own racial identity
  • Explore your internalized racism 
  • (Re)learn the history of racism
  • Grieve and name racism
  • Raise your race-consciousness (Pitt’s Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion offers a mini course on diversity consciousness)
  • Catch yourself in the flow of racism
  • Understand racism in relationships
  • Reclaim your whole racial self
  • Be a racial ally
  • Engage in collective racial healing

3. Join a racial healing circle online or in your community

Racial healing is the need to acknowledge and tell the truth about past wrongs created by individual and systemic racism and address the present consequences. It’s a process and a tool that can facilitate trust and build authentic relationships that bridge divides created by real and perceived differences. For those affiliated with Pitt, the University offers the Intergroup Dialogue Community Collaborative. Its mission is to create a space and community to bring together diverse people to engage in sustained and intentional dialogue for a shared vision of social justice. Participants practice communicating across differences, addressing conflicts and building capacity for social change. Email the intergroup [at] to learn more or join.

4. Read about the history of racism

Consider one of these award-winning books edited or written by Diversity Forum panelists:

  • Anthony Ray Hinton, author of “The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row”
  • Pitt Associate Professor of History Keisha N. Blain, who edited “Four Hundred Souls” with Ibram X. Kendi
  • Simon Tam, author of “Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court”

5. Keep learning

The University of Pittsburgh will offer several opportunities open to the public in the fall of 2021, including the Black Lives in Focus initiative. The initiative, which recognizes the diversity of the community and the value of Black lives and Black art in particular, will include an outdoor art exhibition and programming for University students and the community.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for African American Poetry and Poetics will also host the Black Study Intensive this fall, which offers educational programs, creative sessions and performances for students and the public.

Mark your calendar for the Oct. 5-7, 2021, Wit(h)ness: A CAAPP Black Study on Intimacy. Featured presenters will include Cyrus Cassels, bestselling authors Elizabeth Acevedo and Kiese Laymon, artists Phoebe Boswell, Helga Davis, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, film producer and director Naima Ramos-Chapman and others.

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— Elizabeth Raffaele