About AVI

American Values Institute (AVI) is a consortium of researchers, educators, and social-justice advocates who believe that race in this country is as much an experience of emotions as it is an understanding of our nation’s history and a lack of structural opportunities. If we are to move beyond our racial anxiety and create support for more directly targeted remedies for racial and gendered communities, we must add a deeper analysis of how our emotions and fears about race shape our behaviors and biases.

AVI has been working closely with experts in the fields of social psychology, political science, and sociology to design research projects to begin to fill the crucial knowledge gap with respect to successful interventions and responses to the incredibly harmful effects of implicit bias, racial anxiety, and dehumanization. These effects spill into every important dimension of peoples’ lives from daily micro encounters to the broadest policy development. Besides furthering our understanding of how bias or anxiety can effect human functioning, we hope to identify mechanisms that decrease or ameliorate the harmful effects of bias and to enrich the cultural conversation around race. AVI plans on translating these research findings into methods of practice that will improve the way that race is presented and discussed in culture and the media.

AVI Executive Director


Alexis McGill Johnson is a political strategist, writer, and organizer. She was the Executive Director of Citizen Change, a national, nonpartisan, and nonprofit organization founded by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs to educate, motivate, and empower young eligible voters. Under Combs, she launched the Vote or Die! campaign, creating a new political model for reaching young people and people of color by mixing traditional grassroots mobilization with nontraditional consumer-based marketing methods. Before joining Citizen Change, she was the Political Director to Russell Simmons’s Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. Throughout her career, she has explored shifting paradigms of identity politics in the post-civil rights era, worked to increase civic engagement among young African Americans, and investigated the implications for demographic and ideological changes of this constituency on national politics. She serves as a private consultant to a variety of organizations, donors, and artists.

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