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  • Writer's pictureRachel Logan

The way forward centers equity

Racism and [public] health are popular topics in the public health and health care delivery spheres. Not only is racism and health linked, but we are starting to explore multiple and entangled forms of -isms in our workplaces and institutions. Also, terms such as “intersectionality” and “systemic racism” are becoming common language among laypersons. The way forward includes us, all of us interrogating the many -isms that exist and working collaboratively to dismantle these oppressions –the way forward centers equity and justice for all.

We need co-conspirators…

Most importantly, our allies, also known as co-conspirators, are speaking up as well. This is the America we need—all of us fighting for change and equity. Change will never be brought about by the few, well, not in democratic societies anyway. We need people, white, rich and otherwise to support efforts to address all the ways and forms of racism that plague our society in the U.S. and abroad.

We need to establish that addressing racism is NOT anti-white…

Unfortunately, because of discomfort and shame, many people think that addressing racism is a direct threat to the well-being and livelihood of white people. Addressing racism is not anti-white; however, it does function as anti-racism, anti-bias, anti-discrimination, anti-inequity, and anti-white supremacy. Addressing racism is about stopping the threat of abuse, mistreatment and inequity based on the color of someone’s skin, racial identity, nationality, or ethnic origin. It’s about ensuring that those who do not identify and are not white experience the same freedoms promised by human rights declarations. However, this is only one form of liberation. We have much work to do to ensure that people of all origins, backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities also experience freedom. We are not totally free until we’re all free.

We need new metrics…

I think one of the sentiments that summed it up best is that “We all do better, when we ALL do better.” If the least of us is doing good, everybody is doing good. Why wouldn’t we want a world like that?

Most of our current measures look at the distribution of well-being across the country but ignore sub-groups of the population who fare far worse. We could benefit from other measures that assess how we are performing as a society based on how well the most disadvantaged among us are faring. How about considering people of color and poor peoples’…

  • Perceived quality of life?

  • Access to behavioral and mental health services by professionals who share their racial-ethnic identity?

  • Access to clean air, water, food?

  • Residence in safe and affordable housing?

  • Perceived sense of safety in their communities, including safe encounters with local law enforcement?

  • Difficulty in maintaining stable housing?

  • Access to adequate amounts of and healthy food options?

  • Ability to gain stable employment if previously incarcerated?

  • Number of black and brown children in school districts graduating? And graduating on time? And attending college?

  • Ability to support their family with one or two incomes (not three spare jobs and a side hustle)?

  • Reports of being treated with dignity and respect when interacting with the health care system?

  • Access to good and affordable education or opportunities to get training, skills or learn a trade?

We are on the cusp of novel and innovative approaches to engaging communities, pursuing equity-oriented research, and implementing sustainable strategies that enable the identification of ongoing solutions for some of the most complex and ongoing issues in public health. The way forward centers equity…

#equityforall #antiracism

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