This section has resources on three theories that have become important for understanding and working on racial equity: Racial Identity Development Theory, Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality.

Racial Identity Development Theory

Racial Identity Development Theory discusses how people in various racial groups and with multiracial identities form their particular self-concept.  It also describes some typical phases in remaking that identity based on learning and awareness of systems of privilege and structural racism, cultural and historical meanings attached to racial categories, and factors operating at the larger socio-historical level (e.g. globalization, technology, immigration, and increasing multiracial population). (From, C. Wijeyesinghe and B. Jackson, New Perspective on Racial Identity Development: Integrating Emerging Frameworks, New York University Press, 2012.)

Critical Race Theory

Critical Race Theory is an area of scholarship that looks particularly at how laws and power create “race,” and argues for applying a racialized lens (rather than a color-blind one) with a focus on looking at the role of white privilege and white supremacy in order to understand current societies based on those laws.


Intersectionality as a field of study looks at the relationships among different forms of oppressions, and highlights the importance of understanding and acting against their collective and interactive effects. As Doug Meyer describes in the Gender and Society journal, “The theory of Intersectionality also suggests that discrete forms and expressions of oppression actually shape, and are shaped by, one another. Thus, in order to fully understand the racialization of oppressed groups, one must investigate the ways in which racializing structures, social processes, and social representations (or ideas purporting to represent groups and group members in society) are shaped by gender, class, sexuality, etc.”

Each of these theories makes important arguments and adds useful information to an understanding of racial equity.

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