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In this book, Robert Livingston has culled theory, data, and research from a range of scientific disciplines, including social psychology, behavioral economics, sociology, organizational behavior, political science, history, and evolutionary and molecular biology to address the fundamental question of how we can better name, understand, discuss, and resolve the problem of racism in society and the workplace.

The Conversation

The Conversation

by Robert Livingston


348 reads

The Power of Conversation

A conversation is one of the most powerful ways to build knowledge, awareness, and empathy, and ultimately effect change. 

It is also a primal way for people to form bonds, build trust and create community. When people are given the opportunity to have a conversation after being exposed to ...

The PRESS Model

The PRESS model is created by Robert Livingston, the author of this book and a public policy lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School.

This model offers corporate and organizational leaders to implement effective interventions to address racism. PRESS stands for:

Problem awareness


People are not entirely rational or objective ... It is important to understand how emotions, needs, and desires impact the interpretation of facts, and what people accept as truth.


The very existence of racism violates the notion that the world is fair and just, which makes people feel uncomfortable.


If people are only attacked, threatened, or criticized, then they will retreat. If you confront and correct while giving resources, reassurance, and opportunity to grow, then many will rise to the challenge.


There are many definitions going around for "racism" however, the author wants to underscore his definition of it:

Racism occurs when individuals or institutions show more favorable evaluation or treatment of an individual or group based on race or ethnicity.


This is a term that is used to refer to a form of racism that is embedded in the laws and regulations of a society or an organization. It doesn't have anything to do with what's in your heart, brain, or intentions but it is all about how your actions and inactions allow the dynamics that are alre...

The two types of privilege are: individual and institutional.

Institutional privilege refers to all the advantages of Whiteness that are inherited through baked-in foundational forces and their impact on political, economic, legal, and social structures, policies,...

White Privilege

White privilege is the term used to refer to the inherent advantages that are possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society that is characterized by racial inequality and injustice. It, along with Black Stigma, are residual effects of enslavement.

Robert Livin...

Social dominance theory has identified the two primary mechanisms that help maintain social hierarchies: legitimizing myths and institutional terror.

Legitimizing myths are widely held with fictitious beliefs (meritocracy, ...

The Impetus Behind The Injustice

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone wants social justice. There are people who prefer oppression and social inequality as long as they or their group is doing the oppressing.

Racism is perpetuated to the extent that people are willing to turn a blind eye to racist syst...

Threats That Perpetuates Racial Inequality

  • Structural Threat - a disruption to the racial hierarchy or status quo
  • Psychological Threat - is comprised of an individual's sense of competence, certainty, status, or self-worth

These two types of threats can occur simultaneously, a great example would...


The origin of racism (even sexism) comes from the desire to maintain power and the fear of losing power.

The name of the game is the preservation of the existing social hierarchy, in large because it is an arrangement that feels comfortable, secure, and ...

  1. Have the people be mindful. There are people who are not aware that their feelings about their own shortcomings are directly tied to their political leanings and racial evaluations of other people.
  2. Practice self-affirmation. Power has a palliative effect on fear. It doe...

According to the optimal distinctiveness theory, humans are drawn to social groups that simultaneously fulfill two conflicting needs: the need for assimilation (the desire for social connection and belonging) and differentiation...

Racial Microaggressions

Racial microaggressions are subtle and often inadvertent messages sent to people of color by "well-intentioned" white people that are unaware of the hidden meanings sent to them. Basically, unconsciously acting with bias.

Microaggressions (e.g., a higher tendency to interrupt people of colo...


“I no longer believe we can “win” justice simply by filing lawsuits, flexing our political muscles, or boosting voter turnout. Yes, we absolutely must do that work, but none of it—not even working for some form of political revolution—will ever be enough on its own. Wi...

Equality vs Equity

Equality simply means everyone is treated the same exact way, regardless of need or any other individual difference.

Equity, on the other hand, means everyone is provided with what they need to succeed. Thus, equity entails treating people differently but that is not the same as "special" ...

Racism is a textbook example of harm because it hurts people of color in every sense imaginable—psychologically, physically, financially, and professionally.

It epitomizes how past events continue to produce harmful attitudes and outcomes in the present. The social, economi...

  • Having diversity provides a sense of equity and belonging. The business case for diversity and moral case are intertwined—the former requires the latter in order to work.
  • Failure to do so could damage the organization's reputation.
  • Having people of color in an organization ...

Strong reasons for ending racism can be made on the basis of both self-interest and collective interest. Systems of racial oppression don’t just harm Black people; they harm other people of color, and many White people as well.

People who are prejudiced against one social group are ...


The derogation of one stigmatized group by another is an effective way to remove oneself from the very bottom of the barrel, it serves merely as an emotional salve that temporarily assuaged feelings of threat and shame. It does nothing to address the actual problem and...

What Everyone Can Do to Promote Racial Equity

  1. Control your behavior and seek out repetitive contact with or substantive exposure to out-group members.
  2. Be mindful of societal-level power differences without perpetuating them yourself.
  3. Be respectful.
  4. Leaders should devote considerable effort and attention to creati...

  1. You can reduce prejudice simply by feeling good, calm, and secure. Practicing self-affirmation helps but also pondering the ways of love and kindness.
  2. White people should resist the temptation of falling victim to White solidarity.  If there is no willingness to incur inconvenience, ...

  1. There must be an institutional-based incentive to embrace diversity, by having so, opens up opportunities for individual behavioral changes.
  2. Hold organizations accountable for diversity in a clear, measurable, and unambiguous way. By examining the core values of the organization will...

A Final Note on "Sacrifice"

Building diversity, equity, and inclusion requires the courage to do things differently.

Individuals, businesses, community leaders, and large organizational all have a role to play. It is within our discretion to do the hard work for the changes that we want to see happen...

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