Your Content: How can you create empowering content?

This is a text-only version of this framework.

Explore all of the checkpoints here.

Calibrating creative choices

When we’re working for better outcomes for communities of color, it’s crucial that the stories, images, and messengers we put forth are authentic. We strive to uphold this standard whenever we kick off a creative process.

Harmful content


Harmful content feels voyeuristic. Inequity and misfortune are presented for dramatic effect, not dignity.

Harmful content feels voyeuristic Disempowering. People of color are rarely shown telling their own stories or innovating their own community solutions.

Harmful content feels oversimplified. Stories and dynamics around race lack nuance, multidimensionality, and intersectionality.


Harmful content sounds inauthentic. The messengers and language used don’t come from communities of color.

Harmful content sounds outside-in. Stories center the white observer’s perspective more than the community’s lived experience.

Harmful content sounds insensitive. In the worst cases, language hasn’t been reviewed by members of the community to remove harmful or careless words.


Harmful content looks white-centered. White allies are depicted more prominently than people of color, sometimes depicted through a ‘white savior’ frame.

Harmful content looks impersonal. The artwork lacks colors, images, and textures from the community of color it seeks to represent.

Harmful content looks triggering. In the worst cases, images are violent or otherwise distasteful to the communities of color who are depicted in them or who will see them.

Results from:

Harmful content results from distance. The creator has not established creative partnerships with people of color.

Harmful content results from assumption. The creator has not sourced first-hand insights about experiences with racial inequity to inform their work.

Harmful content results from prescription. Creative decisions are made for and about, not with, people of color.

Empowering content


Empowering content feels dignified. Even when faced with injustice, communities of color are never portrayed in demeaning positions.

Empowering content feels full of agency. People of color speak to their own experiences and are shown actively driving initiatives in their communities.

Empowering content feels layered. Stories, testimonies, and issue explanations thoughtfully capture nuanced realities like history, community dynamics, and intersectionality.


Empowering content sounds real. Messengers, words, and stories come from people of color and their communities.

Empowering content sounds first-hand. Testimony and storytelling center and grant authority to the lived experience of people of color.

Empowering content sounds thoughtful. Words or frames that promote stigma, stereotype, or other aggressions and blind spots never appear.


Empowering content looks POC-led. People of color appear prominently throughout the content and never in less dignified depictions than white partners.

Empowering content looks community-made. The creative product reflects visual details that are of significance to the community of color.

Empowering content looks thoughtful. Visuals don’t lean on harmful images that may retraumatize communities of color in order to depict injustice.

Results from:

Empowering content results from partnership. Creators and thought-partners of color are invited to bring their lenses and assets into the work, and/or their work is featured with credit and permission.

Empowering content results from validation. New creative campaigns and concepts are vetted by the people of color they are created for or about.

Empowering content results from collaboration. The creative process involves community members of color in design, feedback, testing, and promotion. Contributors of color are credited and appropriately compensated.

Calibrate your creative work.

How can this framework help you explore the role of race in your issue space?

Use the Worksheet