Anti-Racism Primer: What Can I Do?

Let us show up with humility, authenticity, curiosity and courage. To borrow from Ruth King, the work of racial equity and social justice is "messy at best." 

In the midst of all of the violence, racism, hate crimes and so much more happening in our communities, many are asking, “What can I do?” 

With so much to be done, it can be difficult to know where to begin. As we move toward action, we can find ourselves afraid to make mistakes. We may also feel that we must figure it all out before we act. In the midst of this we are bombarded with links, lists and ideas of what to do. 

Joining the fight for justice means pushing through discomfort and fear and starting somewhere! This Anti-Racism Primer is designed to help you do just that.

This content is available at no cost for U-M faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn campuses and Michigan Medicine.

Option One: Quick Start Self-Guided Course

If you just want to get started and go at your own pace, you can download this quick-start guide. It includes four sections, intended to be spread over four weeks. Each section has links to resources, articles, videos, podcasts and other materials that will help you on your journey. At the end of each section, there is a set of starter questions and a place for you to reflect on what you learned that week. This is not a complete guide to anti-racism activism, but can serve as an introduction to this very important topic for those who don't know where to start.

Download the Quick-Start Guide 

Option Two: Email Subscription

This option provides a weekly email with recommended learning activities to be completed that week. This content is intended to be a jump start for individuals who would like to actively engage in anti-racism activism, but don't know where to start. In addition, subscribers will receive:

  • Guided reflections and journal cues
  • Action items
  • Call to action for leaders
  • Team Connections: quick tips to help teams engage with the topics
  • Additional resources
  • Peer supported social media community space specifically designated for connection and conversation around the weekly topics
  • AUA (Ask Us Anything): themed questions from subscribers will be answered by subject matter experts weekly

Participants will be invited to a Zoom webinar to share challenges, learning and to commit to next steps. 

This is a rolling program, you will receive your first email on the first Tuesday of the month.  

Sign up for the Weekly Email


The materials contained in both options of this Primer are intended for anyone who would like to learn, at a fundamental level, about white privilege, institutional and systemic racism and how to actively engage in fighting against inherently racist and oppressive systems.

We acknowledge, appreciate and continue to learn from the efforts of those who have been doing this work for many years. We have gathered information from some diverse thought leaders and DEI practitioners as we designed this content. 

Quote from past participant: "The [Anti-Racism Primer] cohort changed my life. It changed how I think about myself, my world and how I look at things on a daily basis. It opened my eyes to so much and has made a huge difference for me."


For those interested in understanding more you can start with two incredible reads:   An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz or An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Please consider supporting black and other minority-owned businesses like bookstores when purchasing. A couple of local black-owned bookstores that you may consider are Blackstone Bookstore & Cultural Center or Source Booksellers Online.

Dr. Deborah Willis has developed a four-week Alumni M-Pact DEI Certificate Program for University of Michigan alumni who are looking to make an immediate impact in their organization and/or community. The program includes weekly virtual synchronous sessions followed by a celebratory closing ceremony. 

The LSA National Center for Institutional Diversity also has a comprehensive list of Campus Anti-Racism Resources.

After completing the Anti-Racism Primer, continue your anti-racism education with the 12-month commitment series.

For those who identify as Black, Indigenous and persons of color (BIPOC), engagement with these resources may be triggering. This roadmap is intended as a starting place for those who want to understand racism and oppressive systems to learn together. 

For those who identify as white, you may find yourself reacting to and/or defending yourself while engaging with the roadmap. Challenging your own culture, privilege and bias can be uncomfortable as you learn things about yourself and systemic racism. This is necessary as you begin to take action and fight against oppressive systems.

Join us on Slack!

If you haven't already, please join us in the #anti-racism-primer channel on Slack. umichWORKS Slack is a communication platform only open to U-M employees. If you are not on U-M Slack yet, use these instructions to join. Once you are on Slack, here's how you can join the #anti-racism-primer channel:

1. Open the umichWORKS Slack Workspace
2. Select the + sign next to Channels
3. Select browse channels
4. Search for “anti-racism primer”
5. Select “Join”
6. The channel will now show up in your list of channels

This is a space where we can have conversations. We can connect.