Racism and the Box

9, 10, 11, 12

This lesson describes a psychological awareness of the connection between racism and self-betrayal and self-deception. When we recognize that going against our best judgment leads to self-betrayal, it can help us act with integrity in many situations.

PrintOne 30-minute session

The learners will:

  • identify the benefits of behaviors that align with personal values. 
  • projected copy of Self-Deception (handout below)
  • printed copies of Racism and Self-Deception (handout below)

Arbinger Institute. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. The Arbinger Institute (Editor). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2000. ISBN: 1576750949


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask young people to think about a time when they didn't act in the way they knew they should have with regard to helping or demonstrating kindness toward another person.

  2. Present and discuss Self-Deception (handout) by projecting it on a screen and talking it through.

    Summary: When I follow what I know is right, I am authentically in community and open to see people as they are. When I betray what I know is right, I don't feel good about myself, and I look for justification to feel okay. I start seeing others as adversaries. It creates personal isolation and disrespect. This self-deception is part of racism. 

  3. Working in pairs, young people read the brief scenario at the top of the handout Racism and Self-Deception. Together, they complete the handout by filling in the boxes. They discuss the logic and impact of honoring one's integrity vs going against what one knows is right and creating conflict and broken bonds of community Discuss how this relates to racist attitudes and behaviors. 

  4. Discuss as a whole group how intolerance shown in the example contributed to racial discrimination and strife.

    How does this relate to how we treat others around us?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.