What are race-conscious solutions?
Urban’s REAL team defines race-conscious solutions as policies, programs, and practices designed and implemented with deliberate consideration of how different racial and ethnic groups would be affected. It is a responsible, intentional practice that can help mitigate racial inequities.
The Urban Institute’s Racial Equity Analytics Lab (REAL), housed in the Office of Race and Equity Research, equips today’s change agents with data and analyses to inform social and economic policies that help remedy persistent structural racism. We believe more thoughtful, race-conscious policies and practices have the power to forge new avenues of opportunity and prosperity for Asian American, Black, Latino, Native American, Pacific Islander, and historically underrepresented communities and that timely, reliable data are essential for designing race-conscious solutions—as well as for holding decisionmakers and institutions accountable for choices that perpetuate oppressive systems.
The REAL approach
Urban’s multiracial, multigenerational REAL team operates at the intersection of data science, social science, and public policy. We conduct innovative research across a variety of intersectional issues to produce human-centered data solutions that respond to real-world needs and near-term policy choices. Whenever possible, our experts deliver data disaggregated by race and ethnicity at the regional, city, and neighborhood levels. And as we learn and share new insights, we are also cultivating an ongoing dialogue with equity-focused leaders who appreciate the power of data to help drive change.
Delivering data for decisionmaking
We generate and share disaggregated data by race and ethnicity, across multiple domains, and at small geographies. Having such timely information gives leaders the ability to measure, monitor, and forecast inequities from the outset, as well as when policies or problems unfold. It also strengthens their ability to design effective remedies to narrow intersectional equity gaps, persuade key decisionmakers, and adapt quickly as situations change.
Identifying patterns of structural racism
We believe meaningful data analysis goes beyond merely calling attention to racial disparities; it must also tell the story behind the data. Urban’s REAL team delivers the “why” behind data by examining people’s lived experiences—past and present—and policymakers’ proposed solutions, as well as evidence of barriers and inequities many people of color face. Providing such context in combination with disaggregated data allows leaders to be more effective in advancing racial equity. And, importantly, it prevents them from reinforcing the false, harmful narratives that attribute racial disparities to inadequate or inferior behaviors by communities of color.
Cultivating collaboration and continuous learning
We know analytic work makes the greatest difference when researchers and data scientists collaborate closely with those best positioned to use data to drive change. REAL builds on Urban’s unique capacity to bring data and social scientists together with policy and communications experts to help leaders at all levels use research insights to promote racial equity, perform their own race-conscious data solutions, and engage with and inform key stakeholders.
We are grateful to Ballmer Group, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Kresge Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Salesforce for supporting the Racial Equity Analytics Lab.