Anti-Racism Resource Guide: Becoming an Inclusive Leader


Black people in America have long been targets of hate and violence because of their race. The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, and George Floyd highlight the inequality and racism faced by Black individuals in America, but also transphobia and misogynoir against Black women. For many, these killings shed light on the fears that Black people face regarding racial profiling, attacks, and killings based on the color of their skin.

This history of injustice and suffering endured by the Black community in this country dates back to slavery. As violent acts and hate crimes continue to occur against Black people in America, so does the negative impact of this public health crisis.

As noted by the American College of Physicians in 2017, “Hate crimes directed against individuals based on their race, ethnic origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity, nationality, primary language, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, cultural background, age, disability, or religion are a public health issue.” Violence towards a Black person affects the individual physically, emotionally, and mentally. The psychological distress from a violent act and/or hate crime can include a general sense of fear, hopelessness, and anger that can develop into anxiety, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), and depressive disorders.

Violent acts and hate crimes damage more than an individual’s health, however. Members of the Black community share a long history of direct and indirect discrimination, abuse, and segregation, leading to stress that has been associated with poorer health outcomes and health disparities. Over time, chronic stress has affected not only mental health but physical health. The University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive culture across the health sciences campus—ensuring an environment where everyone can succeed.

As faculty members, it is critical that we provide inclusive leadership that facilitates learning, offers resources, and demonstrates empathy for our minority/underrepresented students, trainees (resident physicians, fellow physicians, postdoctoral researchers), faculty, and staff, especially those within the Black community who are disproportionately affected by recent traumatic events. As noted above, extreme stress, adversity, and trauma can negatively affect one’s concentration, mood, and cognitive functioning, which can undermine the ability to function at work or school. Moreover, it is important to recognize that while Black students, trainees, faculty, and staff on our campus may appear to be doing well, many are struggling with issues of race, equality, and opportunity as they pursue their personal goals and professional interests.

Please use this guide as you consider, discuss, and respond to this public health crisis. Together, we can develop and foster Carver College of Medicine leaders who are educated about racism, and aware of their own implicit biases, so that we all may contribute to the goal of having a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive campus environment for everyone.


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Structural racism vs individual racism

Racism describes a system of power and oppression/advantage and disadvantage based on race. Structural racism is a system, or series of systems, in which institutional practices, laws, policies, social-cultural standards, and socio-political decisions establish and reinforce norms that perpetuate racial group inequities. Within the context of the United States and other nations, structural racism takes the form of preferential treatment, privilege, power, access, networks, and access to opportunities more often available to white people, which often designate communities of color to chronic adverse outcomes.

Individual racism refers to a person’s racist assumptions, beliefs, or behaviors. Individual racism stems from conscious and unconscious bias reinforced by structural racism. Please visit the list of books, videos, movies, and TV shows within this document to learn more about how racism functions and affects our day-to-day lives.

Understanding implicit bias

Implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously. These mental shortcuts help us more easily make sense of our incredibly complex world. Biases encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments activated involuntarily. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime, beginning at a very early age, through exposure to direct and indirect messages.

We all have implicit biases, no matter our identities and regardless of how educated we are on the topic. These biases manifest themselves in ways that have impacts we may not desire.

If you have ever had an automatic reaction or thought toward a person or situation, and then thought to yourself something like, “That wasn’t cool of me” or “No, that is not the right thing to think,” that is your implicit bias and then your active consciousness reconsidering that bias.

It is difficult for many of us to talk about implicit or explicit bias. We are often socialized to believe that we live in a “just world,” that we treat people how they should be treated and as a result, people get what they deserve. Bias directly contradicts that worldview and our self or group concept.

Though we can learn and internalize these messages and biases very early in our lives, implicit biases are malleable, and the associations we form can be unlearned. To find out more about how bias is learned, internalized, unlearned, and changed, please visit the list of books, articles, TV shows, and movies included in this guide.

Source: Definitions were taken from (Alexander, MEd)


For some people, recent events in our country have made it hard to ignore that discrimination and injustice are still prominent issues in the United States.

And yet, some Americans sincerely believe:

  • They do not “see” the color of another person’s skin
  • Talking about race brings disunity
  • Racism is caused by talking about race
  • You are not racist if you do not purposely or consciously act in racist ways

To say you do not see color or to refrain from talking about race or racism can be problematic to diversity and inclusion efforts. It is important that you recognize skin color and work to regulate your innate impulse to make decisions based on such characteristics. We must acknowledge that we all have these implicit biases. Furthermore, it is important to acknowledge that racism exists and talk about it.

Also, we must be aware that racism comes in many different forms. Scientist, scholar, and activist Peggy McIntosh noted, "I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.”

How can racism be addressed if we do not talk about it in order to fully understand it? To gain a better understanding about race and racism, view “Allegories on Race and Racism,” a TEDx Talk by Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD.

The next steps in anti-racist work involve not only acknowledging race and racism, but educating yourself and then working to dismantle your thoughts, beliefs, and practices that perpetuate and uphold racism.

Educate Yourself

Study the complexities of racism and the many ways it manifests within our society. Through webinars, lectures, blog posts, books, and documentaries, you may learn more and develop an eye for identifying racism in its many forms (in others and yourself). Avoid asking individuals in minority groups to explain racism for you.

Understand Black individuals' trauma and exhaustion 

Racism as a public health issue

Additional materials

Move from anger, shame, and guilt to further awareness and action

Increased awareness about racism often can lead to guilt, shame, or even defensiveness, which can stop you from participating in anti-racist work. However, it is important to move forward and learn more about why these feelings manifest. It might also be helpful to revisit some of the previous resources to help remind you of why this work is important.

Understanding feelings of guilt, shame, and fear in regard to racism

Identify your own biases

Reflective journal prompts:

  • Think about the country that you live in.
  • What are some of the national racial stereotypes—spoken and unspoken, historic and modern?
  • How do you see colorism at work in this country?
  • How do you see colorism at work in your prejudicial thoughts?

Additional resources: 

Honor emotions

The Carver College of Medicine is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive culture across the enterprise and making sure that our environment is a place where everyone can succeed. Therefore, it is important to notice emotional states (without judgment), and provide resources and empathy for our minority/underrepresented students, trainees (resident physicians, fellow physicians, postdoctoral researchers), faculty, and staff disproportionately affected by recent traumatic events.

Support minority/underrepresented students, trainees, faculty, and staff

  • Reach out: Email or call to ask how they are doing and how you can best serve their needs.
    • Normalize the fear, stress, anxiety, and distraction felt during this time. One way to accomplish this is to lead with vulnerability and share your feelings with empathy and compassion to open space for faculty, staff, students, and trainees to share
    • Here’s What to Do & Say To Boost Student Psychological Safety
    • The Creative Collective NYC tweeted a helpful thread of questions beyond “How are you?” that you can pose to your Black friends and colleagues if they choose to open up a dialogue. It’s a great list of questions to use via Zoom and in person
  • Make room for minority/underrepresented students, trainees, faculty, and staff to care for themselves. Black individuals may be reluctant to ask for time off or other accommodations. That is why we need leaders to give them explicit permission to take time to care for themselves and their loved ones. Consider prioritizing work tasks so students, trainees, faculty, and staff can focus on what is most urgent and important and spend the rest of their time/energy on taking care of themselves or loved ones.
    • Here is some language you can use to respond to your students:
      • To all of your students and trainees: “I recognize that our country’s social unrest may be affecting you in many ways, and I am willing to offer flexibility with your (project/assignment/responsibility), as long as it is completed before (date). Please reach out to me via email if you would like an extension on your (project/assignment/responsibility). Please know that there are resources available to support you. You can reach out to (resource) at (name or department) for more information about these resources.”
  • If you choose to meet individually with minority/underrepresented faculty, staff, students, and trainees, understand each person may be coping differently. Here is a list of potential conversations to have:
    • Ask for permission (verbally and by email) before addressing national events, such as police brutality, systemic racism, or the pandemic. Please know that if the minority/underrepresented faculty, staff, student, and trainee responds with ‘No’ or ‘Not now’, this is a perfectly acceptable choice. Not everyone is ready or willing to have this conversation, so be sure to encourage trainees to respond honestly. Please avoid judging their honest response.
    • Ask them what they need but be willing to suggest tangible topics to guide the conversation. Faculty, staff, students, and trainees may not know how to articulate what their needs are.   
    • Ask what they are doing to take care of themselves.
    • Ask what support they need with clinical duties, exams, rotations, experiments, and projects, so they can focus on their mental health (they may be afraid to ask).
    • Ask if they would feel comfortable discussing the topic in a group meeting.
    • Provide space for faculty, staff, students, and trainees to ask you questions.
    • Additional conversation guides: National Day of Racial Healing, Let’s Talk: Discussing Race, Racism, and Other Difficult Topics with Students
  • Familiarize yourself with signs of student distress and steps you can take to help. Responses designed in response to COVID-19 can certainly be adapted for supporting students experiencing a gradient of distress
  • During Zoom chats and check-ins, invite individuals to add mood imagery or contribute a few words in the Zoom chat or a Canvas discussion on how they are feeling. Ask them to upload an emoji, photo, or meme that captures their current emotional state

Encourage practices of self-care and wellness

If you do not know what to say, it is OK to acknowledge this. For assistance:

Additional resources on how to provide support:


Now more than ever, use your gift for humanity to do at least one thing to ensure justice for all. Incorporate what you have learned during your ongoing process of becoming anti-racist into your everyday life. Work to leverage your position as an inclusive leader to encourage others to work for anti-racism.

Also, avoid causing harm:

Need help getting started?

Do you need support with constructing an email or starting a conversation that acknowledges what is happening? The Carver College of Medicine Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can help you with scripts and language that underscore empathy and compassion.

We are here to support you. Please reach out if you have any questions or suggestions on how our office can better support you and our minority/underrepresented faculty, staff, students, and trainees.


  1.  Alexander, M., Victoria. Anti-Racist Resource Guide. 2020  [cited 2020 June]; Available from:
  2. Stamborski, A., M. Div Candidate (2022); Zimmermann, Nikki, , M. Div candidate (2021); Gregory, Bailie, M. Div, M.S. Ed. Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources. 2020  [cited 2020 June]; Available from:
  3. McIntosh, P. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. 1988  [cited 2020 June]; Available from:
  4. Centering Black Community Needs: A resource for faculty and staff to engage in difficult conversations and better support students, postdocs, and research staff. 2020  [cited 2020 June ]; Available from:

NOTE: This document was adapted from reference 1, 2, and 4