Equity Literacy

  • Recognize biases and inequities 
  • Address inequities in the short and long-term 
  • Create bias-free, equitable, and anti-racist classrooms and institutions

Paul Gorski describes equity literacy as a “...framework for cultivating the knowledge and skills that enable us to be a threat to the existence of inequity in our spheres of influence.” Equity literacy enables us to look critically at ourselves, the world around us, and the underlying systemic factors that create the inequities we see everyday. Equity literacy gives us the tools to end long-standing racial, ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic disparities across the NYCDOE and direct resources to communities most in need. This work is entrenched in the desire and moral obligation to provide all students and families with necessary access to the full landscape of high-quality education.

Equity literacy is especially important in this time as our city and nation mourns and marches for equity and racial justice. How do we make sense of the time we are in? How do we understand it as a reflection of generational trauma and systemic and institutional inequities? What knowledge, skills, and dispositions do we need to bring to bear to make sure the system does not go back to the status quo? This is equity literacy.


  • Supportive Environment Framework: Equity and Student Voice, Collaborative and Trusting Relationships
  • Instructional Leadership Framework: Know Every Student Well; Use Shared and Inclusive Curriculum

The Supportive Environment Framework and the Instructional Leadership Framework establish clear priorities, rooted in research-based practices, that are interconnected: no single priority can be achieved without creating a supportive environment and setting rigorous expectations for every student. Equity Literacy falls squarely in Knowing Students Well (ILF), and the Equity and Student Voice (SEF) sections of the framework. The concrete practices offered in these Frameworks can support schools to engage in critical conversations about race, support positive identity development, process emotional responses to trauma, and think critically about power, social justice, and oppression. 

Overall Essential Questions 

  • How do my identities, biases, privileges, and positionality, influence how I see myself, my students, colleagues, families, and communities, and the world around me?
  • How can I understand the history of race, racism, and racial violence in the United States? 
  • How do I facilitate adult conversations about race, racism, and racial violence? 
  • How do I start the conversation with students about race, racism, and racial violence?
  • How do I cultivate anti-racist practice in my personal, professional and organizational life?

Equity Literacy Supports

How do my identities, biases, privileges, and position influence how I see myself, my students, colleagues, families, and communities, and the world around me?

Kirwan Institute Implicit Bias Review 2015 The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity is one of the foremost experts on the study of Implicit Bias. This 2015 reports describes that latest research on the brain-based roots of Implicit Bias

Project Implicit The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you did not know about.

Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life Professor of Psychology and Education Derald Wing Sue discusses the psychology of racism and anti-racism and the issue of racial microaggressions. Racial microaggressions are the brief and everyday slights, insults, indiginities, and denigrating messages sent to people of color who are unaware of the messages being communicated.

Confronting Our BeliefsIn this article, Dr. Edward Fergus discusses common biased-based beliefs in education and the real-time impact on students. For an expanded discussion of biased based beliefs, reference his book Solving Disproportionality and Achieving Equity.

How can I understand the history of race, racism, and racial violence in the United States? 

There are many great resources on equity literacy, the history of race, racism, and racial violence in the United States. The corresponding links provide curated book lists to deepen your knowledge and skills to dialogue and act for racial justice. This includes booklists and syllabus from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of Stamped from the Beginning and How to be an Anti-Racist, the Schomburg Center, and Anti-Racist Resource Guide

The 1619 Project Curriculum Inaugurated with a special issue of The New York Times Magazine, challenges us to reframe U.S. history by marking the year when the first enslaved Africans arrived on Virginia soil as our nation's foundational date. Here you will find reading guides, activities, and other resources to bring The 1619 Project into your classroom.

A Conversation on Race This resource from the New York Times includes a series of videos on different racial and ethnic groups describing their experiences with racism, including the following: 

  • A Conversation with my Black Son
  • A Conversation About Growing Up Black
  • A Conversation With Black Women on Race
  • A Conversation with Latinos on Race
  • A Conversation with Asian-Americans on Race
  • A Conversation with Native Americans on Race 
  • A Conversation with White People on Race
  • A Conversation with Police on Race 

We Need to Talk About Injustice In this Ted Talk, Bryan Stevenson discusses injustice and systemic inequalities in the United States.

American Federation of Teachers: Share My Lesson A three-part series that explores the many ways black Americans face racial bias. These short films—Racism is Real, Black Protests vs. White Riots, and Prison System by the Numbers—explore the effects of racial bias on the lives of black Americans and the ways in which racism impacts American society as a whole.

The Massacre of Black Wall Street This multimedia resource tells the often untold story of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street and the wave of racial violence in 1921 that destroyed what many called a “beacon of black prosperity and security.”

How do I facilitate conversations about race, racism, and racial violence?

Conversation Ground Rules Fundamental ground rules or community agreements allow for open and productive dialogue to take place about difficult subjects. Catalyst provides examples of ground rules to use in multiple contexts.

Navigating Triggering Events: Critical Skills for Facilitating Difficult Dialogues Author Kathy Obear notes that “facilitators and participants bring...their fears, biases, stereotypes, memories of past traumas” to learning environments. The Triggering Cycle is a helpful tool for facilitators to effectively navigate triggering events during workshops or conversations.

Guidance for Central Office Leaders to Discuss BLM Protests Created by the NYCDOE’s Office of Organizational Development and Effectiveness (ODE), this guidance document provides considerations for creating space for dialogue, prepping for the conversation, and a facilitator guide to support you through the conversation.

Effective Facilitation: Relationship is the Measure of Your Strength Director of Community Affairs Sadye Campoamor put together this facilitator guide to engage the community in conversations about the times we are in and what does it look like to have an anti-racist school community.

How do I start the conversation with students about race, racism, and racial violence?

Center for Racial Justice in Education The Center for Racial Justice in Education has tons of resources for talking about race, racism and racialized violence with kids. CRJE is also a local organization that provides support to schools and districts.

Anti-Racism for Kids 101: Starting to Talk About Race and Stop Lying to your Kids-Teaching Kids about white Supremacy Books for courageous conversations: If you’re nervous about talking about race with your kids, these books about racial diversity will give you an easy place to start destigmatizing difference & celebrating racial diversity.

National Museum of African American History & Culture: Talking About Race (Educator Section)This web resource directed at educators seeks to equip teachers with “the context and methods necessary to help your students be more racially conscious ... [and] assist them in becoming agents of change.”

Teaching Tolerance: Let’s Talk! This guide provides strategies for planning and facilitating critical class discussions on topics such as white privilege, police violence, economic inequality and mass incarceration 

Facing History: Preparing Students for Difficult Conversations In this lesson plan from the Facing History unit Facing Ferguson: News Literacy in a Digital Age, students establish a safe space for holding difficult conversations, acknowledge one another’s complicated feelings about race, and develop a shared understanding of the basic facts surrounding the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri

How do I cultivate anti-racist practice in my personal and organizational life?

Anti-Racist Resource Guide This document was created to be used as a resource for anyone looking to broaden their understanding of anti-racism. This guide provides practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity.

75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice This article from Medium is continually updated to ensure the strategies and tasks articulated in the article are up to date.

10 Ways Youth Can Engage in Activism The article provides concrete strategies and ideas for how youth can engage in activism and become powerful agents for change. 

Antiracist Allyship Starter Pack A comprehensive list of resources and tools regarding racism and anti-racism. The document is organized by articles, resource compilations, books, petitions, podcasts, film/video and much more.

Mapping Our Roles in the Social Change Ecosystem This resource serves as a reflection guide for how individuals can meaningfully consider the roles they play in social justice and change movements.

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