Posts tagged ‘racism’

Racing Towards Equity Series Recap!

The Racing Toward Equity Series, hosted by the Diversity and Health Equity Peer Learning Collaborative at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was a series of three seminars intended to address the various forms of racism, understanding of it’s system level structures, and ways one can be involved in overcoming the challenges related to this work. 

The American Public Health Association’s webinar “Quantifying Racism to Understand and Address Health Disparities” was used in two of three seminars.” The webinar includes an introduction to racism and health disparities, a discussion of implementation and measurement challenges in public health research, a discussion on the measurement of the physiologic impacts of racism on health, and the lessons learned from the the work and how to overcome challenges. 

First Seminar “Naming Racism”

Naming Racism_Finalized

This seminar included viewing the first part of the webinar- the National Campaign Against Racism. Lead by Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD APHA President, in which she discusses naming, measuring, and addressing racism as a threat to the health and well-being of the nation. 

Second Seminar “Got Class(ism)?” 

Got Class(ism)_Finalized

This seminar was lead by one of our MPH students Kendra Davis in which she went over the low-down on class related to health disparities, how class works, and what you can do about it.

Check out this Video on our Second Seminar “Got Class(ism)?” 

*Note: There are long pauses of low or no audio because audience audio was not picked up with the recording’s microphone.* 


Third Seminar “Measuring of Racism”

Measuring Racism_Finalized

This seminar included viewing the part of the webinar- Implementation and Measurement Challenges. Lead by Nancy Krieger, PhD Professor of Social Epidemiology Harvard Chan School of Public Health in which she discusses racism’s impacts on health and the challeneges in evaluating it in public health research. 


Stay tune to what this collaborative will host in the near future! 

April 28, 2017 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

A public health view of global racism

Many of the CEMCH Scholars attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Denver, October 29 – November 2. We will be posting their reflections and highlights this month.

By Bejan Foretia, BA

Bejan Foretia at APHA

Bejan Foretia at APHA

APHA 2016 was inspiring and filled with so much potential. The conference hosted 11,000 people consisted of hundreds of sessions led by researchers, students, and medical and public health professionals. Though I am a student in the Maternal & Child Health and the Population, Sexual & Reproductive Health sections of APHA, I chose to visit multiple sessions on variety of topic areas. What I enjoyed the most was the innovation of the research studies and the potential to improve the public health of the nation through a variety of different methods.

A hot topic in our nation today is the on-going racist systems that plague people of color. Because of this, I most appreciated the session hosted by APHA president Dr. Camara Jones’, entitled Racism: A Global View. As an African-American with parents from Central-West Africa, I believe it’s imperative to understand the African diaspora, as well as the components of racism across that diaspora. Within the session, Dr. Jones had a variety of speakers on a panel that discussed racism in the US, South Africa, Brazil, and New Zealand. The most compelling concept was the notion of truth telling, as made popular by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, in considering the struggles of post-apartheid South Africa. This notion stated that the price of forgiveness was to tell the truth about known and unknown injustices towards Black South Africans. This would establish a sense of anti-racism for all races and ethnicities in South Africa. In this way, Mandela and Tutu established a sense of morality within their country and were able to create collaborative efforts to better their country in every way. Industries and organizations that were previously segregated and indifferent towards one another were now able to trust one another and address their country’s issues.

It made me think about the health issues in the black community in the US today. What would be the effect if systematic racism was dismantled, effectively establishing trust among races and ethnicities? In an election year where racism has been more blatant than ever before, I truly appreciated these perspectives because they reminded me that the problem extends beyond this country. However, there are ways to tackle and dismantle oppression, and it begins with truth and forgiveness. Hopefully as the 2016 campaign comes to a close, we move closer to a stronger nation.

Bejanchong Foretia is a first-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She graduated with a degree in psychology from Spelman College. She plans to graduate in May 2018. Her interests include infant and reproductive health, as well as global health.  She also loves reading, dancing, and traveling.



November 18, 2016 at 9:39 am Leave a comment

The importance of anti-racism training

Many of the CEMCH Scholars attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Denver, October 29 – November 2. We will be posting their reflections and highlights this month.

By Gabriella Landgraf-Neuhaus, BSPH


APHA President Dr. Camara Jones speaks at the opening session

Before APHA, I was not really sure what to expect. I was apprehensive. However, after the opening session on Sunday, I felt much more at home. The outgoing APHA President, Camara Jones, MD, MPH, was one of the noteworthy speakers, and used her time to address and stress the importance of addressing racism in everything we do. She used many analogies that I found helpful, like that there are signs in society, as in a restaurant, that say “Open/Closed” but that are only open or closed to certain people, reflecting how racist our societal structures are. People inside the restaurant only see this open sign, and people outside the restaurant only see the closed sign. So it is up to, in large part, the people inside the restaurant, who have the opportunity to eat, to use their privilege to help those outside the restaurant get in, so that they may thrive as well. This illustrated her point that “naming racism equips you to act,” in other words, seeing and identifying this privilege can move a person towards making change.

I loved how she further illustrated the importance of addressing racism and health equity by naming three core barriers to achieving an anti-racist society. The first core barrier is that we are a-historical, meaning we are disconnected from our history. We are disconnected from the knowledge that we have already gained from past events that shaped this country, and from the implications and potential power that this knowledge has when it comes to helping us change the present and future of the United States. The second core barrier is that we as a country have a narrow focus on individual efficacy, and that we need more of a focus on collective efficacy in making change. We must recognize the immense power we have as citizens of the United States to work together to fix what we are not happy with in our society. The third core barrier she addresses is the myth of meritocracy, that the United States tells its citizens that if you work hard enough anything is possible. However, this idea does not recognize that everything is not equitable in this country and that without equity, there will always be people who work very hard, but who are still poor and without their essential needs.

This third core barrier hit me the hardest; while I had thought about these three issues separately, Dr. Camara Jones connected them beautifully in a way that was very easy to absorb. The third core barrier, in my interpretation, addresses privilege very directly. It shows us how there are those set up for certain advantages and that a United States meritocracy is a lie. This myth of meritocracy in many ways placates those in the upper classes, and prevents them from seeing their privilege, while also placating those in the lower classes into thinking that if they work hard and try their best they will be able to move up in the class structure of the United States. At the same time, this stratification distances the upper, lower, and middle classes from one another, making empathy between and within these classes difficult. I think that empathy between and within classes for our individual and collective struggles is difficult in part because we have placed so much responsibility on the individual self, when it should be on the collective society that maintains these structurally racist, sexist, and otherwise discriminatory practices. While we make up this society, we must all be responsible for our own awakenings, our own naming of racism, in order to start to change the collective society. We must share our knowledge and help each other to awaken to the reality of racism, as a collective.

Meritocracy does not take into account structural racism. It does not acknowledge that there are those with privilege and those without who must find ways to break through the heavy burden of racism to find success. Dr. Camara Jones has called for collective action to address this, and for an anti-racism treaty at the federal level. She has also called for us to come together as public health professionals to begin to organize and strategize for a nation-wide campaign against racism. Too many institutions have not addressed their racism, and this is in part because we as a society are still colorblind, blind to the many ways in which racism is present every day, in ways large and small. But as public health professionals, we have the data to support this campaign. We know that race and more poignantly, structural racism, is a main, if not THE main cause of health disparities. The first step at our institutional level, such as at Tulane University, is to acknowledge this and move to make anti-racist trainings available, and hopefully required, for everyone.

After the opening session, Dr. Jones held an anti-racism roundtable collaboration. It was packed! After addressing us, Dr. Jones asked us to split up into eight teams: communication and dissemination, education and development, global matters, liaison and partnership, organizational excellence, policy and legislation, science and publications, and history. We then brainstormed in these different sections what should be addressed by APHA in this national campaign against racism. I took part in the communication and dissemination team, which worked on how to name racism: “How do we get people to see racism as a core problem that our society must face and work to undo?”

We have to find ways of putting racism in terms that all people can understand, to play to citizens’ empathy; to turn our collective blame and inaction into responsibility and action; and build bridges over petty disagreements and value differences. In other words, we must find common ground, and anti-racism training is a place to start.

Gabriella Landgraf-Neuhaus is a first-year MPH student, with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Tulane University in Public Health and Anthropology. Her interests include equity in education at all levels, maternal, child, and family relationships and wellness, integration of the natural world into education, and anti-racism training.



November 17, 2016 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

What a time to be in public health

Many of the CEMCH Scholars attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Denver, October 29 – November 2. We will be posting their reflections and highlights this month.

By Kiara Cruz, BSPH


Kiara Cruz at APHA

I had the pleasure of attending this year’s American Public Health Association conference in Denver, Colorado. This year’s theme Creating the Healthiest Nation: Ensuring the Right to Health was emphasized throughout the opening session and the various sessions on racism. The conference opened with APHA President Camara Jones, who immediately talked about the “elephant in the room”- racism – and how to tackle this moving forward as public health professionals. Beyond moved, I shed tears of inspiration. Inspiration from a woman of color in a position so prestigous, and using it to talk about one of the biggest challenges this country continues to face.

She challenged us to think about what anti-racism mechanisms are happening at the community, societal, and policy levels. The main takeaway she instilled is remembering three important notions: valuing all individuals and populations equally, recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and providing resources according to need and not equally. She stated, “the fact that we do not know, we cannot use it to our advantage,” which has inspired me to seek more knowledge on the various structural systems that contribute to racism and find ways I can educate myself on the different frameworks that can tackle various forms of racism. Camara Jones reminded me to never be afraid to break barriers and speak about things that may not be received well by others; it is essential to discuss the root causes of why we have systems that lead certain populations to have worst health outcomes than others.

Following Camara Jones,was the President of the Federation of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards. Her work with Planned Parenthood and the constant fight for the rights of underrepresented populations like women, reminded me why I want to go into Maternal and Child Health. The fight starts with us at the forefront, and I am excited to continue to work towards improving the rights and health of women and children across the world. Whether the board members of APHA planned this or not, having two powerful women speak at the opening session on the passion rooted in their work, was successful in reminding everyone the fight we have ahead in creating the healthiest nation. Change takes patience, but we must never lose hope and must remember why we love the work we do.

CEMCH Scholars (from left) Shanice Roache, Kiara Cruz, Grace Saul, and Bejan Foretia, with APHA President Dr. Camara Jones (center)

CEMCH Scholars (from left) Shanice Roache, Kiara Cruz, Grace Saul, and Bejan Foretia, with APHA President Dr. Camara Jones (center)

My favorite aspect of the conference was the ability to learn how public health is affecting change on various topics like the life course approach, refugee and immigrant health, restorative justice, and the power of storytelling. Having the option to choose from what felt like a million topics was a little overwhelming but contributed to my personal and professional development because I learned that public health is a river of knowledge. I learned about using restorative justice in my future work, using the voices of those affected in storytelling to prompt action in others, and the impact of using different media outlets to reach audiences. In the end, I came away from the APHA conference with more passion, and insight on the various resources I can use to impact change in communities I hope to work with.

Kiara Cruz is a first year MPH student and a scholar in the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane.  She received a bachelor degree in Public Health from the University of Rochester and continues her passion for working in public health by interning at the Louisiana Bureau of Family Health. Her interests include prenatal and postpartum care, community health, maternal and infant health, and monitoring and evaluation of MCH interventions.






November 17, 2016 at 9:37 am Leave a comment

Confronting the challenges

Many of the CEMCH Scholars attended this year’s meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), held in Denver, October 29 – November 2. We will be posting their reflections and highlights this month.

By Grace Saul, BA

Grace Saul at APHA

Grace Saul at APHA

A definite highlight of this year’s conference was when APHA President Dr. Camara Jones addressed the full assembly with a powerful speech calling for racism to be named and centered in the field of public health. Using several illustrative metaphors (including, notably, The Gardener’s Tale), Dr. Jones constructed an accessible framework for understanding what racism is, how it is perpetuated, and what barriers we face in seeking to dismantle it in modern society.  I was amazed and inspired by Dr. Jones’ ability to synthesize this content into a picture that is easy to understand and to pass on to others.

During her tenure as President of APHA, Dr. Jones has led an initiative for addressing racism across the field of public health.  As she explained, our first order of business must be to put racism on the agenda by naming it and by establishing systems to rigorously monitor exposures and outcomes that differ along racial lines.  Next, we must critically examine the mechanisms at work in our systems, policies, practices, norms, and values, paying close attention not only to the existence of harmful policies, but also to the absence of supportive policies.  Finally, we must organize and strategize to address the structural factors perpetuating racism and unequal access to resources, power, opportunity, and representation.

Dr. Jones additionally discussed the three principal barriers we face to achieving health equity in this country.  First, our culture is a-historical: we resist the understanding that our present condition is organically connected to our past.  Second, we have a narrow focus on the individual, which blinds us from seeing important sociological and institutional factors that create and perpetuate racism.  And lastly, we ascribe to the myth of meritocracy, ignoring how racism fundamentally shapes opportunities and outcomes.

It was an honor to be a part of a crowd that greeted Dr. Jones’ message with a standing ovation and a collective commitment to work toward rectifying the historical, institutional injustices that persist today.  Dr. Jones’ words lingered in my mind throughout the conference as I observed professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds taking a deep interest in one another’s work, asking difficult questions, and coming together as a community to better understand and confront the challenges we face in striving for health equity in our country.

Grace Saul is a first-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from McGill University and has previously worked in research, monitoring & evaluation, and non-profit program development in Canada, the U.S., and Senegal.  Her interests include women’s health, reproductive justice, immigrant and refugee health, social norms theory, health communication, and health policy.  She loves mountains, dogs, cities, maps, and photography. 



November 16, 2016 at 12:36 pm Leave a comment

Race well covered; Policies disproportionately affecting women left out

IMG_8136 2By Mary Lingwall, BA

My aim in attending APHA was to get a stronger sense of what is going on in the professional field regarding the topics and issues that I am most passionate about—abortion care, breastfeeding outreach and promotion, and racial disparities in health. My secondary aims were to network, make a list of people and organizations I want to keep track of, and identify an area of study that needs more attention paid to it by future professionals (me!).

Overwhelmingly, of all the topics that I am passionate about, racial disparities in health was the most covered at APHA. I was able to attend both the “Racism in Public Health” oral panel and an absolutely fantastic “Reproductive Justice and the Black Lives Matter Movement” roundtable session, both of which focused explicitly on the role of racism in America as it relates to health, happiness, and the ability to live a full, safe, and satisfying life. But race was also a central focus of many other sessions that were not labeled as race-related. For instance, the most memorable parts of the “Maternal Child Health Legacy: Lessons from the Past Informing the Future, Building MCH Policies and Just Communities” were the opening performances by young Chicago writers (all focused on race, racism, and the killing of black people by structural and institutionalized factors) and the comments made by the outstandingly candid panelist and former APHA president, Dr. Murray.

To my great disappointment, abortion access was not well covered at this year’s APHA conference. I attended the “Abortion Taskforce” business meeting (my absolutely favorite session because I was included as a stakeholder and it made me feel really connected) as well as an oral presentation on Abortion access in the Midwest. Both of these sessions were excellent. However, women’s access to abortion is a significant public health policy topic right now in the United States, but this was not even alluded to in the General Assembly. It was an outrageous omission for a conference titled “Health in All Policies.” The crusade to defund Planned Parenthood is widely covered in the news and is topical and relevant to this community of professionals; it was eerie that women were forgotten in this way.

Breastfeeding promotion activities, outreach programs, and science were all well covered at the conference and I enjoyed the oral presentation that I attended. I was able to meet one of my breastfeeding heroes, Dr. McKenna. Dr. McKenna is a lactation professional who is most well known for his empathy and advocacy for bed-sharing as a protective factor in breastfeeding promotion.

Overall, I had a very enjoyable and worthwhile time at APHA and I look forward to attending next year, where I will bring the heat with some well-researched and timely information about the urgency for public health attention to reproductive rights.

Mary Lingwall is a first-year MPH student with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health. In her previous career, Mary was a birth and postpartum doula and lactation counselor. Her interests include perinatal mood disorders, breastfeeding promotion and outreach, and abortion access in the South. She plans on graduating in May 2017.

November 19, 2015 at 8:39 am Leave a comment

Undoing Racism

Last week, the Tulane MCHLT hosted an “Undoing Racism” workshop for students, staff, faculty, and MCH partners, in an effort to better understand and address a key determinant of health.

By Liz Hasseld, BA

It’s been about a week since I attended a three-day workshop titled Undoing Racism, presented by the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. That title packs a punch – I know! I learned galaxies in those three days and I am excited to apply my new knowledge and perspective as I move forward in public health. I feel very lucky to have participated in this workshop at the start of my career in Maternal and Child Health.

Being a reflexive learner was vital to this type of education. The workshop was three days long, we were in the same room, and barely moved from our chairs. But I was never bored. The hours went by quickly even though I was mostly listening. I think the time passed so quickly for me because we were talking about race, something that is taboo or impolite or often shifted to other issues in conversation with friends or discussion in class. It is rarely discussed as a stand-alone topic in mainstream settings. The first day the presenters (organizers) discussed some ground rules with the group. One rule was to focus on race in United States, and to not bring up classism or sexism. At first I was a little reluctant about that rule – isn’t intersectionality what it’s all about these days? But after the three days I understood why that rule was vital. Without it, the issue of race would become hidden behind other issues and other words. It is usually the last thing to be discussed – it never gets the time or attention it deserves. We were taught the historical beginnings of race and about the laws and policies that have built up the system we have today, with Blacks as second class citizens. We examined the widespread social policies starting from the founding of the United States that benefited White Americans (“White Affirmative Action”) like the Homestead Act, The New Deal and The GI Bill, leaving Black Americans out directly and indirectly. White Americans have had a much longer time and much more government backing to build up wealth and assets that are evident today.

The title to the workshop gave me false hope of unveiling all the answers to cure our country and ourselves of systemic racism. What I gained was far more powerful. The best way I can describe my experience – which was truly life changing – is that it lifted blinders off my eyes that I’d had on since I was born. Ideas of privilege and systemic racism were not new concepts to me (I, a White female, went to a liberal arts school after all!). I was aware of the facts and figures, individual stories of struggle, unfair media portrayals of people of color, and health disparities that exists in this country but I have never put all the pieces together into a philosophy that unites people. Beyond creating programs and engaging in superficial community engagement, public health professionals need to be involved within their own community to break down a system of oppression – meaning that, I, as a public health professional, can’t leave the office for the day and expect my program to change the current system. It will take honest communication and my favorite, community organizing. There is no clear path or way to “undo racism” but it must start from inside my own community – not from an ivory tower or a board room in a skyscraper. This may seem obvious but it was a really good reminder to me as higher education tends to slowly morph people into type A technocrats whether we like it or not!

Although public health is full of compassionate people who want to help others we must try to see a bigger picture. We have professionalized traditional duties of the community to give ourselves jobs. Although we mean well, this practice takes power away from the communities we are meant to help. So we should cut all social programs and let everyone fend for themselves? No. This idea can be dangerously mistaken for a neoconservative view that individuals should be left to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, free of big government. That is absolutely not what I am advocating for. The point is that there is no pre-subscribed and clean data-driven answer. The answers will only come from honest dialogue, courage to ask difficult questions, and an awareness of our own place in this racist system.  Perhaps the workshop left me with more questions than answers. These questions might take a career or a lifetime to answer. These questions are uncomfortable. They raise into question my country, my identity, and my history. The solution to these difficult questions is to keep asking and talking – not to shut down with grief or rejection. So I look ahead with hope and humility. I am going to try my best to remember everything from those three days.

Liz Hasseld, an MCHLT Scholar, will be graduating in Summer 2015 with an MPH concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. Her interests include migrant and refugee health, reproductive health, and achieving health equity through policy. As an ESFJ, she loves to travel and meet new people and is slowly teaching herself Spanish.

May 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

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