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Research & Policy Clusters

As a university-based research center, we are exceptional and unique. We transcend narrow disciplinary thinking by bringing together scholars, policymakers, journalists, and advocates around a collection of broad and shifting issue areas like—education, economy, environment, health, politics, and justice reform—to research how best to dismantle racist structures, practices, and institutions that reproduce racial inequities.

Policy change has been the key to racial change. And yet, instituting policies that reduce racial inequity has been difficult, time consuming, costly, and inefficient, not merely because of the politically charged issue of race in America, not merely because rigid racial ideologies and organizational strategies woefully encourage the recycling of failed solutions. We have not learned from historical failures and successes. The Antiracism Center connects those people who have historically been involved in racial change and systematizes the process that has successfully led to antiracist policy change.

Team Structure

Philanthropy + Scholars + Policy Experts + Journalists + Advocates + Policymakers

Historically, the principal agents of racial change—scholars, policy experts, journalists, and advocates—have typically been disconnected and working in isolation: scholars in universities, policy experts in think tanks and government offices, journalists in media organizations, and advocates in advocacy groups. They have rarely worked in concert from the outset, connected to philanthropists and policymakers. They have indirectly and informally handed their work off to one another—policy experts creating policy based on scholarly research, journalists reporting on the new policies and studies, advocates pushing to implement policies while wielding the research and reporting. But what if they worked together from the beginning?

The Antiracist Research and Policy Center aspires to build Research & Policy (R&P) Teams of scholars, policy experts, journalists, and advocates who will be residential fellows at American University. Fellows will teach project-based courses, and their students will work as their assistants, allowing the Antiracism Center to provide a new model for student learning through the interplay of teaching, scholarship, and impact.

Current Pilot Projects

Race & Health

In October 2018, Dr. Jessica Young, Assistant Professor of Health Studies at American University, launched the center’s first research and policy pilot project to examine racial disparities in infant and material mortality throughout the District of Columbia. Dr. Young’s project examines low-income women’s experiences with maternal health care services in Washington, DC, especially in light of the recent closings of two DC maternity wards that primarily served low-income women. Through interviews, photo essays, and data analysis, Dr. Young will capture low-income women’s experiences with maternal and infant health care systems and examine how issues of race intersect with class to shape maternal and infant health outcomes in the city, especially access to and quality of care. Hear an interview with Dr. Young and the Antiracism Center’s Christine Platt (starting at 14:36) in Money Alone Can't Save Us: Why Are Black Women Disproportionately Dying During Childbirth?

Race & Sports

In February 2019, Dr. Christopher Petrella, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Partnerships at the Antiracism Center and Lecturer in the Critical Race, Gender, Culture Studies Collaborative at American University, launched the center’s second research and policy pilot project that assesses racial disparities in compensation among Division I NCAA men’s head basketball coaches. This pilot project is in partnership with ESPN’s The Undefeated.