Racial DeckEquity: How to Play (My “Rules” + Your “Rules”)

A lot of people have been asking me “how do you use or “play” Racial DeckEquity?”

In a word, it’s flexible and evolving.

This card deck is designed to be used by organizations who engage in social impact work and who wish to improve in their DEIRJ practices.

There are many ways that this card deck might be used, and while I’ll list a few below, I have a call to you all to inform the greater community as to how to use this deck.

as a child and OG Blerd, I was a big playing card fan, including games like Marvel Overpower. Storm was a must on my team

I obsessively played card games as a kid like Marvel Overpower — and yes, I played Dungeons & Dragons — and one of the things I liked about fantasy games is the expansion of rules and experience beyond what is prescribed in the rule book. But before you expand, you need to know what the core parameters are, right? Let’s look at a few approaches:

Scheduled Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Racial Justice Audit: Here’s what you can do: set a cadence to review DEIRJ progress (quarterly, every six months, annually at a minimum). Meet with your leadership and DEIRJ team, and shuffle the card deck. Put the deck reverse up, and pull the top card. With each card you pull, discuss each question with your team and note progress or gaps against the prompts, as well as solutions that may be generated from your reflections.

Strategic Planning Pivot: Another option for this card deck is as a prompt/pivot-catalyst during DEI & RJ strategic planning. As you are going through strat planning with your internal DEI leads/team or with an external consultant, pull the card deck out periodically when you get stuck on a policy, process, or framework that needs to be worked through. What inspiration or tension comes out of reflection on the cards as you vision the next focus of your equity planning?

Randomized General Reflection: Certainly, this card deck can be used as a general reflection exercise tool at any time when you are contemplating how your organization is working to shift power in your internally with black and brown staff and externally in regards to community stakeholders.

Pair with Race Forward & The Management Center’s Choice Points Framework: This idea comes from my partner, who went through training at The Management Center. The Management Center worked with Race Forward (who I am a huge fan of) to expand Race Forward’s Racial Equity Choice Points Framework.

This is from the Management Center & Race Forward’s article, “Using Choice Points to Advance Racial Equity and Inclusion”:

image source: https://www.managementcenter.org/article/using-choice-points-to-advance-racial-equity-and-inclusion/

The good news is that it is possible to learn to be equity-conscious by first becoming aware of your own power to advance equity and then acting on it. Anyone who’s ever read a choose-your-own-adventure book knows that it’s often not a single decision, but the cumulative impact of a bunch of small decisions, that influences the ultimate outcome. In order to shift your organization’s culture and systems to advance racial equity and create an environment for your most marginalized staff to thrive, you need to zero in on those opportunities to influence equity and inclusion outcomes. Thankfully, our friends at Race Forward developed a tool for that: choice points.

What exactly are choice points?

Choice points are opportunities for leaders and managers to reflect, generate options, and act on decisions that can impact racial equity and inclusion. They’re like forks in the road, where one path is the status quo (AKA the default option). This path saves you time when you’re swamped with deadlines and deliverables. You can walk it blindfolded.

It’s also the path most likely to lead you down a familiar road, which for many organizations means replicating bias and inequity. The alternative paths (there are usually more than two!), might be harder to see, more complicated to navigate, or not as well-trodden, but may lead you to more equitable outcomes.

The opportunity here is that as managers or leaders in an organization, we can reflect on what these choice points are, and even use Racial DeckEquity as a prompt to determine whether there are some that we are missing.

Okay, here’s where we lean on each other as COMMUNITY. How would you use Racial DeckEquity? How are you using the deck, that I haven’t thought of? In the comments section, please share your thoughts and ideas. I will continue to add to this article with your ideas and attribute to you.

Let’s build more methods for racial justice and equity, together.

And learn more about Racial DeckEquity here.

At the intersection of design, equity, operations, & people: Designer (service & equity) • Strategist (bizops & people) • Equity (org change models/tools)