Abstract: Promoting Antiracism in a Rural Community By Using Human Centered Design (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Promoting Antiracism in a Rural Community By Using Human Centered Design

Sunday, January 15, 2023
North Mountain, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Natalie De Sole, MSW, Doctoral Student, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Tiffany Jones, PhD MSW MFT, Assistant Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Anne Williford, PhD, Associate Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Charlotte Bright, PhD, Director and Professor, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Background: The present study centers the role of antiracism to combat color-evasiveness and deconstruct the ways in which whiteness—in its current, unchecked form—perpetuates racial oppression. Using an innovative design thinking approach informed by Critical Race Theory (Crenshaw, 2011), this presentation reports findings from a pilot study that created an antiracism and human-centered design curriculum (named the Innovation Change Lab or ICL) in a rural community that has experienced persistent racial inequities in youth and family outcomes. Our research questions included (1) did participants perceive the training to be feasible and acceptable?, (2) what impact did the training have on participants' knowledge, attitudes, and intention to address racial inequity?, and (3) to what extent did the training change participants' knowledge, attitudes, and intention to address racial inequity?

Methods: This study used three data sources which include (1) a pre and post survey (2) a post-workshop feedback survey, and (3) a focus group at the end of the training. Scales included the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale (CoBRAS) (Neville et al., 2000; Neville et al., 2013), Antiracism Engagement (Aldana et al., 2019), Individual and Structural Attribution for Racial/Ethnic Inequality and the Social Justice Action confidence and frequency scales (Gurin et al., 2013; Nagda et al., 2009). Both the short session-focused feedback surveys and the focus group asked about key lessons learned, but the focus groups sought to understand the most meaningful lesson learned and experiences across the workshops.

A total of 14 participants engaged in the data collection. The sample included 12 cisgender women and two cisgender men. Participants identified as White (n=7), Latinx (n=3), multracial (n=1). Pre- to post-survey change was analyzed using one-tailed t-tests. Qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions and focus group data was conducted using conventional content analysis (Hsieh et al., 2005).

Results: ICL was largely successful in shifting individual attitudes toward antiracism (t=2.62, p<.01) and increasing one’s confidence in taking action on social justice issues (t=-2.09, p<.03). However, the participants did not report significant improvement in understanding the pervasiveness of racism (t=1.41, p<.09). The qualitative findings suggested that participants’ increased understanding of race and racism that may lead to the disruption of whiteness as normal given their reported growth in understanding racism as a system of oppression, which in turn may help to interrupt the status quo that perpetuates racial inequities (Bell, 2020; Kendi, 2019; Matias & Mackey, 2016).

Implications: Findings suggest that the ICL curriculum may have indeed supported the development of an explicit antiracist orientation and commitment to antiracist action. In doing so, ICL appears to have supported the kind of attitude change necessary to move toward the development of policies and practices within systems that can move beyond color-evasiveness and address the racialized experiences of BIPOC communities.