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Removing Racial Residue Workshop


Our original "Removing Racial Residue" workshop has begun to effectively improve interactions between people of different ethnic groups in the city of Milwaukee, helping to resolve racial tension and contribute to a less racialized, more favorable environment where people of color can truly thrive, and people across the spectrum can enjoy more open and honest relationships.

The need for this has been evident since the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the legislative reforms that followed, neither of which succeeded in fully removing racism and its effects from American society in general or from Milwaukee in particular, a city considered to be our nation’s most segregated. Countless incidents and reports during the decades since then, ranging from the 2004 Northwestern University study of widespread employment discrimination, to the 2014 Annie E. Casey Foundation report of the widening gap between black children and those of other races at all levels of education, to incarceration disparities, to police involved shootings and resulting protests in Milwaukee and across the country, all make it painfully evident that we need to work not only at the legislative level, but also at the individual level to rid our society of this persistent scourge.

The Purpose

Our training focuses on three levels of what we call “racial residue” – in the white community where white privilege, blinders and excuses prevail; and in communities of color where anger, fear and distrust continue to grow – hindering community-wide peace and collective action to remove racism from our institutions and societal structures. The workshop combines a visual object lesson, a presentation of the racial residue concept and levels, and personal stories told by black, white, Latino and/or Asian trainers about the impact of racism and its residue in their lives. It teaches practical steps that each of us can take to rid ourselves and others of racial residue.

Feedback in recent months has been moving and positive, and we are being asked to bring this transforming experience to many other places, including the Sherman Park neighborhood in Milwaukee, where young people set fire to businesses in the wake of the shooting death of an unarmed man by a police officer in the summer of 2016.


Methodology for
"Removing Racial Residue"

  • We use a visually engaging metaphor of the impact of racism and the residue it leaves in a racialized society like America.
  • We expose people of multiple ethnicities to the deep and pervasive damage done in a society where race matters in ways that harm people of color.
  • Our trainers model for audiences how to discuss racial issues with honesty, transparency, emotion and humor.
  • Each trainer shares compelling experiences of racism, identifying the internal residue produced.
  • We then engage participants in small group exercises to process the concept of racial residue, by identifying it in the written accounts of several people’s experiences.
  • Next we teach participants ways to remove racial residue at each level within themselves, and to assist others in removing their residue.
  • Finally we allow time for large group discussion and Q & A with the trainers – always a powerful time of learning about the impact of racism, and ways to heal divisions among us.

Our evaluation process focuses on the immediate and long-term impact on people who attend the workshop. We measure immediate impact by collecting evaluations at the end of the training and compiling and analyzing the responses. To measure long-term impact, we send a follow-up survey to participating organizations one month after the training. We ask for stories of application in the workplace; receive any additional feedback, whether positive or negative; and assess whether the organization could benefit from further training to build upon the impact of the workshop or address specific issues.

Since January 2015, we’ve trained 1,012 people on Removing Racial Residue.

Below is a summary of data from our evaluations by participants that have been part of the training.
The scale for the evaluation was 1 to 4, with 4 being high.

  • Workshop was relevant to my life and work: 3.7
  • Handout was appropriate and clear: 3.5
  • There was enough time for discussion and questions: 3.3
  • How the workshop contributed to my general knowledge about racial residue: 3.0
  • The presentation team’s presentation style, knowledge of subject matter, willingness to share from the heart: 3.6
  • Skills approaches, and/or concepts from the workshop I can apply personally and professionally to remove racial tension and division: 3.5

Overall rating of workshop: 3.6


We are collaborating with individual leaders who have gained approval from their respective organizations to serve as trainers, including:

  • Center for Youth Engagement
  • City Year Milwaukee
  • United Community Center
  • Ex Fabula
  • Urban Poiema

The following organizations have sponsored our workshops in the past year, bringing the training to the public or to their employee populations:

  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee
  • Milwaukee Academy of Science
  • St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care
  • Milwaukee Academy of Science
  • Outreach Community Health Centers
  • City Reformed Church
  • St. Catherine’s Children’s Center
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties

Contact for more information:

Diane De La Santos, Executive Director 
(414) 931-6670