What's Race Got to Do with It?



In advance of your session, be sure to watch the film, review necessary background material, select pre- and post-screening questions and create an appropriate agenda for your event.

Select themes and pre-reflection questions according to your audience’s interests. To deepen the level of conversation, you might assign questions in advance or ask participants to do research. Providing information about national trends or your own institutional data may also be helpful.

Major Themes

What’s Race Got to Do with It? touches on issues relevant to many campuses, especially those that are predominantly white. Here are possible themes to explore:

  • Underrepresentation: Who’s at this school? Are campus demographics representative of society? Should they be? Why or why not? Who is at the 2-year or 4-year campus across town?
  • Equal Opportunity / Merit: What does it take for students from different backgrounds to gain admission to this school? To stay in school? To graduate? Is everyone having the same experience here? Should they?
  • Normalization of Race: How do our experiences with race shape our ideas about society? Do we all share a responsibility for making a difference?
  • Colorblindness: Is race still relevant? How should we respond to it? Should we be “colorblind” or “color conscious?”  What’s the difference?
  • Diversity and Social Responsibility: What’s the point of diversity? Who does it benefit? What obligation do educational institutions have to address societal inequalities? What obligation do any of us have as citizens?
  • Equality and Social Justice: When we talk about race, what do we want the end result to be? What’s the difference between diversity and equality?  What would racial equity look like?
  • Structural Racism vs. Personal Bias: What is structural and institutional racism? How is it different from individual prejudice? How does it play out on our campus? What can we do about it?

Personal Reflection Exercise

Before starting the video, invite participants to jot down responses to some of the following questions, but do not ask to share them aloud. This exercise helps viewers articulate their own attitudes and preconceptions about diversity so they can watch the video more critically, actively and purposefully.

  • Are you comfortable talking about race/racism? What makes you uncomfortable?
  • When do you notice race? How often do you think about it? On a scale of 1-10, what impact has it had on your life? Look around the room. Who do you think shares your views or experiences of race?
  • Think about your daily encounters with people of different races (classes, groups/clubs you belong to, study groups, faculty/staff in positions of authority or service, etc.)? What do you notice? Who’s absent, who’s present? Why?
  • Does race still matter? Is it useful or divisive to talk about race? What’s wrong with the way we talk about race?
  • Does everyone have an equal opportunity to succeed? Should they?
  • Are race-based remedies like affirmative action fair? Why or why not?
  • What does racial disparity mean to you? What does equity mean to you?
  • What are you here to learn? What do you hope to get out of this discussion? What do you want others to learn from you?