Posts tagged ‘structural 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

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

camara-opening

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.

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November 17, 2016 at 3:38 pm 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. 

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

Public Health in Preschools and Prisons

Two of our MCH Scholars attended this year’s CityMatCH Urban Maternal and Child Health Leadership Conference, held in conjunction with the Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Conference, in Philadelphia, September 14 – 16.

By Thea Lange, BA

Mass incarceration is a national issue that threatens the health and human rights of all citizens. In the United States, one out of every three black boys is expected to be incarcerated at some point in his life. This involvement with the criminal justice system could interrupt his schooling, impact his employment and earning potential, increase his risk of disease, and disrupt his social capital. As a result, mass incarceration is disproportionately impacting, not only young black men, but their entire communities.

The majority of detainees and inmates are adults, but the criminalization of black bodies starts as early as preschool. Young black students make up only eighteen percent of preschoolers but represent almost half of all out-of-school suspensions. As black students continue through the school system, they are three times more likely than white students to be suspended. In addition, “zero-tolerance” discipline strategies quickly involve the criminal justice system for minor juvenile offenses creating a pipeline from schools to prisons.

Keynote Speaker Bryan Stevenson and Tulane MPH student Thea Lange

Keynote speaker Bryan Stevenson and Tulane MPH student Thea Lange

This year, the City MatCH/Epidemiology Conference in Philadelphia placed an emphasis on the role of public health in mitigating the structural racism embedded in our country. The conference opened with keynote speaker, Bryan Stevenson, reminding public health professionals of their role in addressing the injustices perpetrated against people of color both inside and outside the criminal justice system. As a public interest lawyer, Mr. Stevenson has dedicated his career to serving the poor, incarcerated and condemned.

In his work and in his life, Mr. Stevenson has witnessed the detrimental effects of structural racism on the health and well-being of people of color. He encouraged us, as public health leaders, to think and talk about our identities and implicit biases. He told us to stay proximate to the populations we serve and retain our cultural humility. He implored us to change the narrative around race in our country by acknowledging the injustices of the past and recognizing the terror black families live in everyday. He told us to hold onto hope because, despite the challenges, people and systems can change. And he encouraged us to be willing to do uncomfortable things because discomfort is part of the healing process. With his keynote speech, Bryan Stevenson set the tone for the rest of the conference.

With tears in my eyes and passion in my heart, I was elated to be immersed in a community that recognizes the structural racism embedded in our society and how it intersects with the public health, criminal justice and education systems. I engaged in lengthy conversations about criminalization of young black children in schools and the progression of that bias into correctional settings. I attended symposiums on how to interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline and integrate trauma-informed practices into school settings. I obtained insights into how to effectively communicate with legislators and influence policy on the local level. In the end, I came away from the CityMatCH conference with greater insight into how to effectively continue doing the work I am doing.

Thea Lange is a second-year MPH student, concentrating in Maternal and Child Health. She received a bachelor degree in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College and continues to integrate her undergraduate background into her public health work. Her interests include early childhood education, criminal justice reform, and trauma-informed care.

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October 7, 2016 at 10:10 am Leave a comment


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