A Critical Evaluation of a Racial Literacy Education Program for Police Recruits

Maria J. Valgoi, Helen A. Neville, Michael Schlosser, Sundiata K. Cha-Jua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We used a practical–participatory evaluation method to develop and critically evaluate a racial literacy education program for police recruits. The 10-h Racial Literacy Project (RLP) education was developed over the course of a year and across two training cohorts. The programming was informed by the literature and using the input of a core academic team, veteran police officers, and community members. A quasi-experimental design was used to assess the influence of the RLP intervention on a third cohort. Recruits participated in either the RLP intervention (n = 34) or a Nonracial Diversity intervention (n = 37). Participants’ pre- and posttest scores were compared on racial colorblind beliefs (or denial and minimization of racism) and ethnocultural empathic feelings. There were no significant differences on posttest racial colorblindness scores across the two intervention groups. Also, surprisingly, recruits in the RLP intervention group displayed statistically significant lower levels of empathetic feeling towards People of Color at posttest compared to their Nonracial Diversity intervention group counterparts. These findings suggest that 10 h of exposure to racial literacy education is insufficient to produce targeted desired changes. Several recommendations for future development of the RLP are included.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalRace and Justice
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • African/Black Americans
  • Latino/Hispanic Americans
  • police and public opinion
  • race and ethnicity
  • race and policing
  • treatment by police

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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