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Racial Justice

Framing racial justice prompts people to think differently, acknowledge the root causes of disparities, and support equity-focused policy.

We can’t get to the America we want without talking about racial equity, structural racism, and racial and ethnic discrimination. But if communications aren’t framed carefully they can reinforce misconceptions about people of color and set back change.

FrameWorks’ research reveals that the widely-held American belief in “rugged individualism” fuels a toxic assumption about personal failings that obscures public policy failings. While this is where many people start, it’s not where they have to stay. Framing can help people see how opportunity and oppression work. Advocates need to explain—not just assert—inequity, lead with shared values, and point to solutions.

Explore how to lead more productive conversations on racial equity.

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Getting to “We”: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Immigration and Immigration Reform

This report lays the groundwork for a larger effort to reframe the public debate on immigration and immigration reform.


Framing and Facts: Necessary Synergies in Communicating about Public Safety and Criminal Justice

The data on racial disparities in the justice system is clear to advocates - but misinterpreted by the public. Values messages can help us be heard and understood.


Maze and Gears: Using Explanatory Metaphors to Increase Public Understanding of the Criminal Justice System and its Reform

How can we frame the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, and other justice reform issues, in ways that gain mainstream traction? Metaphors can help.


Cognitive Media Analysis of Disparities in the Education System

The way the media covers educational equity and the "achievement gap" shapes public thinking. How can we reframe?


Caning, Context and Class: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Public Safety

For justice reform efforts to be sustained, we need ways to navigate public perceptions of crime and punishment. This study offers a map of dominant thinking.


Talking About Disparities: The Effect of Frame Choices on Support for Racial Equity Policies

How can we talk about disparities in ways that prompt people to rethink assumptions, acknowledge the root causes of racial disparities, and support equity-focused policies?


Every Picture Tells A Story: An Examination of Racialized Visuals and their Frame Effects

Is there a difference between images that explicitly depict Black children and visuals that more subtly cue the issue of race?


The Illogic of Literalness: Narrative Lessons in the Presentation of Race Policies

Findings from several survey experiments with registered voters demonstrate that order matters significantly in overcoming racial resentment to elevate support for policies that address...


Invisible Structures of Opportunity: How Media Depictions of Race Trivialize Issues of Diversity and Disparity

This media analysis was conducted to examine the various ways in which race is presented to readers, directly and indirectly, in the nation’s news media.


Effects of Explicitness in the Framing of Race

An online experimental survey of 622 people was conducted to test the effects of several reframes on racial attitudes and policies.


The Architecture of a New Racial Discourse

This message memo synthesizes the research findings and makes recommendations about applying these findings in the context of framing communications about race.


Creating a Unified Voice for Opportunity: An Analysis of Qualitative Research Exploring Perceptions of Race

Fourteen focus groups were conducted in 2004 with engaged citizens across the country to observe how citizens discuss race in general.