The Center's Vision

The Antiracist Research and Policy Center is founded on a new vision of racial change. To eradicate racist ideas, we must eradicate racial inequity. To eradicate racial inequity, we must eradicate racist policies. To eradicate racist polices, we must bring them to light and execute powerful campaigns of change.

From the outcry over police violence and voter suppression, to growing opportunity and wealth gaps, to lethal environmental toxins and health disparities, to mass incarceration and deportation, persisting and expanding racial inequities constitute nothing less than a national and international crisis. Only the most innovative teams of changemakers can combat these human crises. Open-minded and well-resourced teams of experts have solved seemingly intractable human problems, most recently producing the transistor, computer, internet, and medical treatments and cures. Teams have been the engine of human progress. And teams can be the engine of racial progress.

In partnership with the philanthropic community, scholars, policymakers, journalists, and advocates have been centrally involved in the process of dismantling the racist policies that reproduce racial inequity. Scholars identify the problem. Policy experts develop a practical solution. Journalists report the problem and solution. Advocates and activists work with policymakers to institute the policy solutions. And yet, how often do these changemakers systematically work together? What if they did? Imagine the synergy and innovation should they combine forces on the same well-resourced teams. Imagine their potential impact if they came to Washington D.C. on residential fellowships and worked together on a national crisis in their area of expertise with faculty support and classrooms of students from the most politically engaged student-body in the United States.

The Antiracist Research & Policy Center aims to attract support from visionary philanthropists and foundations to fund teams of scholars, policymakers, journalists, and advocates to examine racial problems anew, innovate and broadcast practical policy solutions, and work with policymakers to implement them. From our deliberately antiracist approach, to our unique structure and process, to our ability to scale the size of our teams, to our location in the policy capital of the world, our non-partisan “Antiracism Center” is primed for a life of impact. No other center of this name and kind exists.

Our theory of Racial Change:

Conventional wisdom holds that ignorance and hate are behind the reproduction of racist ideas, and racist ideas are behind the reproduction of racist policies. Conventional wisdom holds that oppressive environments have debilitated the cultures and behaviors of people of color. Popular solutions have been born of these popular constructions of the race problem, typically behavioral enrichment programs and efforts at educating away racist ideas.

Popular solutions have largely failed to create an antiracist society of equity because they are based on a false construction of the race problem. Instead of racist ideas leading to racist policies, Ibram X. Kendi shows quite the opposite in his National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America.

Historically, the production of racist ideas has not come out of ignorance or hate, but out of a need to rationalize racial inequity and justify racist policy. Slaveholders reproduced the idea that Black people were the cursed descendants of Ham to defend the Black slavery that made them wealthy. Jim Crow politicians reproduced the idea of corrupt Black voters to rationalize the voter suppression that kept them in office. Racist ideas make us believe the racial problem is bad people and not bad policy, contributing to our racial polarization and threatening American democracy. The only way we can bring people together is to show the root cause of our racial problem is bad policy, not bad people.

Antiracist change comes—and has come historically—through unearthing and removing racist policy at the very root of racial inequity, while clearing away the racist ideas that hide those roots and defend and normalize racial inequities. Based on this novel theory of racial change, we are building a research and policy center unlike any other. While race centers on university campuses typically support individual research geared towards educating the populace, our non-partisan center will primarily support teams geared towards policy change. Efforts at policy change will be buttressed by efforts at changing minds. We strive to create an ecosystem of racial change—of changed policies, of changed minds, of a changed world.

Make a gift today and join our inaugural campaign for change

What Makes Our Vision DIfferent

  • We know the racial problem is not people, but policy. 
  • We know the racial solution is correcting policy, not people. 
  • We carry a broad intersectional perspective and combat inequities between all racialized groups, no matter their gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, or nationality.
  • We carry local, national, transnational, and international outlooks on inequity and discrimination.
  • We do not support individual projects. We support team projects.
  • We are distinct from university research centers and think tanks that primarily support individual researchers and policy experts.
  • We depart from the popular model of single-area research. We organized six teams in the areas of economy, education, environment, health, justice, and politics.
  • Our six annual teams, supported by AU faculty and students, will be comprised of scholars, policy experts, journalists, and advocates—the four professionals typically behind evidence-based policy change.
  • Our Antiracist Education Project will use the latest and most engaging technology and professional workshops to mass educate away racist ideas. We aim to build the world's largest digital infrastructure of racial inequities, racist ideas, and racial histories. We plan to launch other ongoing projects that monitor and undermine racism.
  • Our six teams will be sizeable, consisting of scholars, policy experts, journalists, and advocates, as well as AU students, student interns, and community volunteers.
  • Our fall courses where students function as research assistants will provide a new model for student learning through the interplay of teaching, scholarship, and policy change.
  • Our teams will not engage in research disconnected from policy innovation.
  • Our policy innovation will be grounded in pioneering research
  • Our advocacy campaigns will be built on groundbreaking research and policy.