Equity, Justice and EQ

Essential Emotional Intelligence Resources

Antiracism is an active stance to deconstruct the internal, relational, and systemic structures that prevent us from having true equity in the world. Emotional intelligence can play a role in the “inner work” toward a just society.

Rather than waiting until we have the exactly right way to share these perspective and resources, we are publishing this document as a “living draft.” This page will evolve as Six Seconds learns more about how EQ and Equity go hand-in-hand. We hope you will be part of this learning process.

Introduction: EQ & Equity

There are systems in human societies that unfairly diminish certain groups. These have grown over centuries and some people are unaware of the oppression that these systems perpetuate. We are all operating within cultures and norms, laws and practices that contribute to inequity, and we won’t have widespread equity without changing these systems. To dismantle the systems, however, will take people. So we must start with the inner work, the “heart work” of equity — which includes learning to see all people (including ourselves) with compassion.

To have a more just and equitable worlds, we need ways of relating grounded in profound mutual respect. Equity means affording each person with the opportunity support they need — which will be different depending on their lived experiences. This requires moving away from a mechanistic view where people are interchangeable widgets — and away from zero-sum-game thinking founded in a fear of scarcity.

Since emotions fuel racism, could being smarter with feelings (practicing emotional intelligence) help us individually and collectively to build communities of equity?

Why is EQ relevant to Equity?

Social justice requires dismantling cultural and systemic structures that divide us by sustaining, and even exacerbating, prejudice, and by institutionalizing discrimination. Perpetuating these unjust systems diminishes all of us.. Yet how can we do this systemic work when we, ourselves, are products of unjust systems? There is an “inner work” to do; in one of the videos to the right, Kamilah Drummond-Forrester describes this as “reclaiming our humanity.”

Following the Six Seconds Model of Emotional Intelligence, the process might include:

Know Yourself: Tune in to be more aware of your own emotions and reactions. Noticing how your reactions are influenced by unjust norms and past experiences. Being curiously open to your own feelings as a source of insight.

Choose Yourself: Assess when your reactions are not equitable and life-sustaining. Then shifting from unconscious reaction to intentional response that is aligned with your core values.

Give Yourself: Connect beyond yourself to get out of an isolated, ego-based perspective. Increasing empathy for you and all of us so you can FEEL that we are in this together. Stepping forward on purpose.

For an illustration of these steps, see the video to the right, “What is a process that can help to DECONSTRUCT RACISM?”

Why is Equity relevant to emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence means “being smarter with feelings.” It’s about accurately acquiring emotional data and using that to effectively solve the intrapersonal and interpersonal challenges we face. Due to systemic inequities (reinforced by social systems that evolved under racism, sexism, ageism, etc), the emotional data we perceive is skewed by cultural biases and the social and cultural expectations of emotion regulation and expression.

If we want to be ACCURATE in understanding emotional data, we need to distinguish the useful information of emotion from the distorting effect of widely held assumptions & experiences. In other words, we can’t effectively grow EQ without addressing the distortion caused by inequity.

Free workshop kit

This kit offers a structure workshop to use the Beyond Allyship film to teach about allyship, and moving beyond “being an ally” into building community for equity.

Video: What is a process that can help to DECONSTRUCT RACISM?

Michael Eatman leads Culture 7, a Six Seconds Preferred Partner using emotional intelligence in the work of diversity & inclusion. He provides a brief explanation of how the process of practicing emotional intelligence can help in the work of equity.

Video: EQ & Education Equity

What should education do to counteract racism? How can social emotional learning support education as a path to a just and equitable society?

Article: The Science of Unconscious Bias

An introduction to the science that confirms, “if you have a brain, you have bias,” and strategies for disrupting these biases

The Science of Unconscious Bias: What, Why, & How

Video: Does MANAGEMENT need to CHANGE?

What are the SKILLS managers need in 2020? With Princess Ayers-Stewart (Diversity & Inclusion at REI) and Jeff Kinsley (Leadership at FedEd). With uncertainty, work-from-home, recommitment to diversity… what does it mean for management? How do we need to change? What kind of leadership skills are required today, and how will these be developed?


In the world today, humans face multiple challenges such as poverty, human trafficking, sexism, gender bias, destruction of the natural world, rising levels of mental illness, loneliness, stress… and racism. Looking at the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it can be daunting to consider ALL these areas of crises. In conversations about any one issue, some individuals raise concerns that other problems are more pressing, and we end up further divided.

Intersectionality: “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.” – Oxford Languages 

TIME Magazine explains that the term “intersectionality” was used by feminist activists to help people understand the multiple, overlapping inequities that affect some people — for example Black women.

Without dismissing the brutal reality of the intersectionality of oppression, the word can also help us understand opportunities. Just as “intersectionality” describes the overlapping circles of inequity, the word can also describe the common ground that all of these massive problems share. In other words, if we want to solve all of the 17 SDGs, including creating equity among people, where is the common ground?

There is no short answer to this question, but consider: If we do the “inner work” required to dismantle racism, would there be corollary benefits? 

Video: Exploring EMOTIONS on racism

Can emotional intelligence help end racism?  We are joining together to share emotions on racial inequality and systemic injustice against Black people in the US and beyond. We invite members of the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Community and anyone to join us in this space for compassionate dialogue to explore the idea.

Video: Mental Health for a just & thriving future

How can we thrive and build justice through mental health? What are the social and emotional resources we ALL need to courageously step into difficult conversations about race, identity, and the world we want to co-create? What would it take for everyone to have the assets needed for emotional wellbeing — and could that coincide with an end to racism?


One of the central challenges in education is building alignment as a learning community — we need metaphorical maps, a GPS, and a car that will take all of a school’s stakeholders forward. To do so, we can re-imagine educational leadership as a collaborative endeavor. 

Six Seconds’ Vision of Practicing Emotional Intelligence

Our vision is “a billion people practicing emotional intelligence,” and, at Six Seconds, we hope this can help end racism.

Our team understands that, “if you have a brain, you have bias.” Human brains are adapted to increase efficiency, and so we’re wired to categorize and judge. In a social context of intense stress, low trust, and polarization, bias accelerates into prejudice. And, humans have the capacity to learn and grow, so we are not prisoners of our neurobiology.

At Six Seconds, we believe that all change starts on the inside. One of our expectations for people who are part of the Six Seconds’ community is that each of us will do the work of growing and practicing emotional intelligence. As an organization, we will continue to learn how this practice includes the work of antiracism, and we expect every member of Six Seconds’ staff and community to grow the compassion and skills to cocreate communities of equity.

Here is our working  draft-in-process of Six Seconds’ plan to be a more equity-focused organization doing our part to end racism.

Read more about EQ & Empathy

Empathy is one of the EQ skills our community members have identified as a key to addressing racism