Evaluating Antiracism Training for College Students

The paper evaluates the effectiveness of antiracism training workshops in improving white undergraduate students’ positive feelings and allyship behaviors towards Black students.

Reviewed by Roderick Taylor


Scholars note that allies play a significant role in undermining and dismantling systemic barriers, with research showing that effective allyship can lead to significant reductions in racial bias. The authors purport that allyship requires a commitment to social justice, the establishment of genuine relationships with those from other identity groups, and a dedication to accountability within these communities. In addition, the authors assert that the necessity for racial allyship, particularly from white individuals towards Black communities, is underscored by historical social movements, like the Civil Rights Movement, where white allies were integral co-conspirators in the fight against racial segregation. 

In the wake of this history, the authors studied the impact of a Racial Harmony Workshop program at a large public university in New England. The purpose of this research study was to examine white university students’ allophilia — positive, anti-prejudiced attitudes towards different racial groups — and interpersonal allyship behaviors towards Black students, as a result of anti-racism training.  

The researchers are  Monnica Williams, PhD and Sophia Gran-Ruaz. Williams is a clinical psychologist and Professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa. Gran-Ruaz is a PhD Candidate in clinical psychology at the University of Ottawa. 

Methods and Findings

This report investigates the outcomes of two diversity workshops on allophilia and allyship. Allophilia is having positive feelings towards members of an outgroup, characterized by affection, comfort, kinship, engagement, and enthusiasm. Allyship, as defined by the authors, is the active support and promotion of social justice, involving genuine relationships with marginalized communities and a commitment to accountability within these communities.

The report examines five behavioral dimensions of allophilia, which include comfort, kinship, affection, engagement and enthusiasm, to determine whether they change as a result of these workshops. In addition, the study tested whether the workshops increased engagement in allyship from white students towards Black students.  

Participants were selected from a large public university and randomly assigned to one of two groups: (1) intervention group – those who attended a Racial Harmony Workshop (RHW) developed by Monnica T. Williams and her colleagues, facilitated by one white individual and one person of color and (2) control group. The RHW was an educational and experiential learning workshop which addressed themes including stereotypes, racial identity development, and systemic racism. The workshop included discussions on pathological stereotypes, automatic racial/ethnic bias, and the role of white individuals in dismantling racism. Participants engaged in mindfulness exercises, small-group interracial interactions, and activities designed to promote social connectedness and empathy.

Conversely, the control group had conversations about The Color of Fear, a documentary where eight men of different racial and ethnic identities discuss their personal experiences and perceptions of racism in America.

The researchers used Pre-, Post- and One-Month measures were taken using the Allophilia Scale and the Interpersonal Racial Allyship Scale, serving as indicators to assess the effectiveness of the antiracism training workshops in enhancing allophilia and allyship. 

Improvement in allophilia was found by the study among those who attended the RHW. These improvements were documented in the scale dimensions of comfort, kinship, engagement, and enthusiasm towards Black students. Yet, the increase in affection was not statistically significant. Furthermore, the RHW participants demonstrated a significant increase in allyship towards Black students immediately following the workshop. However, this effect was not sustained at one-month follow up. In contrast, the control group showed no notable changes in any of the five dimensions of allophilia immediately after or at the one-month follow up. Additionally, during the one-month follow up, it was found that the control group’s allyship scores decreased below pre-workshop levels.


This research focuses on the transformation of attitudes and behaviors of white college students towards Black students through antiracism training. The Racial Harmony Workshop (RHW) offered at a large public university studied showed greater improvements in measures such as comfort, kinship, and engagement when compared to discussions provoked by a film that explores individual experiences and perspectives with racism. Nevertheless, developing effective and accountable allies is an ongoing journey that requires continuous self-reflection and intentional action for its efficacy – thus, the long term impact of these training methods needs to be assessed beyond one month. 


Thank you for visiting RRAPP

Please help us improve the site by answering three short questions.