Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project

Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project (IARA) is working at the intersection of community, academia, and policy to address intellectual and practical questions as they relate to antiracism policy, practice, and institutional change.

Click here to learn even more about the project

Featured Article: “Why Words Aren’t Enough From Companies Claiming Support Black Lives Matter” Boston Globe Magazine, July 7, 2020 by IARA Director Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad and IARA Senior Fellow Erica Licht

Resources and Reading on Racial Justice, Racial Equity and Antiracism from the IARA Project

Why IARA? 

The Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project is a newly formed initiative with a goal to use research and policy to promote antiracism as a core value and institutional norm.

While diversity and inclusion work is an important step in this process, antiracism work encompasses demographic change at every level of the institution in conjunction with the adoption of antiracist institutional norms, values, and practices. For profound transformation of institutions, diversity and inclusion work is not sufficient when addressing structural processes that are rooted in traditions of racial exclusion and privilege and/or which discriminate based on group disparities.

Implicit bias training, for example, helps uncover the problem of racial prejudice and racist stereotypes among individuals but it does not answer the question of how to change institutions whose policies and practices are based on racist ideas. Individual awareness of bias is one thing; institutional transformation based on that training is something else.

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Our Program 

The Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project believes in working at the intersection of community, academia, and policy to address intellectual and practical questions as they relate to antiracism policy, practice, and institutional change. In order to create and sustain change, the goal of this project is to promote antiracism as a core value for organizations by critically evaluating structures and policies within institutions. The project aims to analytically examine the current field of antiracism with a lens on research and innovation, policy, dialogue, and community involvement.

Our vision is to be a leader in institutional antiracism research, policy, and advocacy, and propose structural change in institutions and media centered on antiracism work in the public, private, non-profit sectors and digital space. This work will focus on researching existing organizations that conduct antiracism training and development while analyzing their effectiveness and promoting best practices in the field. Additionally, we will study the implementation of antiracism work among institutions that self-identify as antiracist and promote accountability structures in order for them to achieve their goals.

Our Team 

Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Faculty Director, Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the Suzanne Young Murray Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies.

Professor Muhammad is the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global black history. He is the author of award-winning The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard), and contributor to a National Research Council study, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences (2014). He serves on a number of boards, including the Vera Institute of Justice and the Museum of Modern Art.

Erica Licht, Senior Fellow

Erica Licht has been engaged in racial equity and organizational change research and training for the last decade. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Masters in Justice Policy from the London School of Economics. Prior she served as Assistant Director at the Center on Culture, Race, and Equity at Bank Street College in New York City and as a Fellow with Race Forward. Her career has focused on collaborative community and institutional change programs globally, including consulting with the Center for Creative Leadership in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Lemann Foundation in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and as a Fulbright Scholar in Lagos, Nigeria. She currently co-hosts the podcast Untying Knots housed at IARA and the Shorenstein Center.

Dr. Miriam Aschkenasy, Program Director

Miriam Aschkenasy is a board-certified fellowship trained Emergency Medicine Physician and an expert in global humanitarian response and operations in low resource settings. She has a Master’s in Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, with a certificate in Management, Leadership, and Decision Science. After obtaining her MPA, she shifted focus to work on issues of institutional and historical racism. Dr. Aschkenasy has worked extensively both within academic institutions, and with national and international organizations including Oxfam America, The World Health Organization, International Medical Corps, American Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control on operations and program implementation.

Recent IARA Programming 

The IARA Project held its second-annual Truth and Transformation convening virtually on October 2, 2020. You can find a recap of the day, and selected recordings, here. For more information about Truth and Transformation 2019, click here.

Robin DiAngelo talk – co-sponsored with the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative

Book Launch events for Dr. Suraj Yengde’s new book “Caste Matters”
Speaker Series with Dr. Yengde, September 24, 2019

Please Do Not Include Us convening on race and discrimination in AI – co-sponsored with the Technology and Social Change Research Project. Keynote talk: The Politics of Difference: Race, Technology and Inclusion (video available).

Undesign the Redline exhibit on racism in housing – co-hosted by the Wiener Center

Professor Khalil Muhammad’s Recent Work:

2nd Edition of “The Condemnation of Blackness,” published by Harvard University Press, July 2019.

The History of Dissent in American Political Life,” interview on NPR’s All Things Considered

Mass Incarceration,” interview for an episode of NPR’s Throughline Podcast

Why Police Accountability Remains Out of Reach,” essay in the Washington Post (excerpted from The Condemnation of Blackness)

The Barbaric History of Sugar in America,” essay for the New York Times Magazine’s 1619 Project

Other Kennedy School Research on Race and Equity

Canaries in the Coal Mine: COVID-19 Misinformation and Black Communities
June 24, 2020
By Brandi Collins-Dexter, Shorenstein Center Fellow, Fall 2019 and visiting Fellow with the Technology and Social Change Project

Can Cities Save the Census? A Local Framework for Our Nation’s First Digital Count
April 1, 2019
By Kyla Fullenwider, Shorenstein Center 2018/19 Entrepreneurship Fellow, and Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky

Estimating the Effect of Asking About Citizenship on the U.S. Census
March 21, 2019
By Matthew A. Baum, Bryce Deitrich, Rebecca Goldstein, and Maya Sen

In the Shadow of Kerner: Fifty Years Later, Newsroom Diversity and Equity Stall
May 22, 2018
By Farai Chideya, Joan Shorenstein Fellow, Spring 2017, and Program Officer, Ford Foundation

Exploring the Role of Algorithms in Online Harmful Speech
August 10, 2017
By David Talbot and Jeff Fossett

Snake and Stranger: Media Coverage of Muslims and Refugee Policy
June 22, 2017
By Meighan Stone, Entrepreneurship Fellow, spring 2017, and former president of the Malala Fund

How Women Journalists Are Silenced in a Man’s World: The Double-Edged Sword of Reporting from Muslim Countries
June 19, 2017
Yeganeh Rezaian, Joan Shorenstein Fellow (fall 2016) and Iranian journalist, formerly of Bloomberg News and The National

Rape Culture in India: The Role of the English-Language Press
July 20, 2016
By Joanna Jolly with additional reporting by Uzra Khan

IARA Project Updates


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