November 14, 2023
U.S. ORGANIZATIONS FOCUSED ON HUMANITIES, CIVICS, AND PUBLIC HEALTH INSPIRED BY NATIONAL POLL SHOWING AMERICANS OPEN TO OVERCOMING DIVISIVENESS
NCHE Poll Finds Public Embracing Racial Healing & Fairness
WASHINGTON – Organizations advancing racial and health equity and civic engagement are inspired by a national poll finding a strong appetite for unity in communities across the country despite intense divisions. The poll found that a significant majority take pride in their American identity, and two in three (67%) say they are hopeful Americans can work through differences and find lasting common ground in the future.
The inaugural Heart of America Annual Survey, sponsored by the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE), also found that Americans across the political spectrum, including 3 in 4 Republicans, say promoting diversity in the workplace and educating our children on the history of racism is important for racial healing.
“Americans feel transformative leadership brings Americans together with a sense of shared purpose and encourages us to engage with each other on a personal level. Americans express a desire for deepening our understanding of the diversity of Americans’ lived experiences and believe our leaders have an important role to play in bridging divides,” the Benenson Strategy Group wrote in their summary of the comprehensive poll.
On behalf of NCHE, the Benenson Strategy Group, a respected research firm, conducted 1304 online interviews from June 16-24, 2023. All respondents were 18 years old or older and included oversamples of young voters and voters of color to ensure adequate representation within the survey. The margin of error at the 95% confidence level was ±2.60 percentage points.
Dr. Gail C. Christopher, NCHE’s executive director, said the poll results demonstrate the hateful, divisive rhetoric frequently presented by some media, politicians, and public figures does not accurately represent the feelings of most Americans. “Our poll captures the actual environment in the country, and the poll responses strongly indicated that the narrative we hear so much over the airwaves is a false narrative. It’s wrong,” Dr. Christopher said. “Our poll relays the true voice of the broad American public.”
Further, Dr. Christopher warned that today’s communication technology is elevating and amplifying the voices of the few, creating an impression that dissension is more widespread than is accurate. “We are living in an echo chamber,” she said. “For our country to heal, we need to elevate the voices of the many. The voices of people who want democracy to work and for our nation to heal. Those are the people represented in the poll. The media should take on more responsibility in capturing the voices of the many, the people who aren’t looking to tear our nation apart.”
Georges C. Benjamin, MD, American Public Health Association Executive Director, agreed that too much attention is placed on differences among Americans and not enough on the common threads that can unite the country.
“While we focus on differences, this survey reinforces my belief, and that of most Americans, that we can and want to work together for racial healing and equity,” he said. “APHA, NCHE, and countless local organizations across the country are uniting people in this goal.
Phoebe Stein, President of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, said the poll results confirm that healing is possible at the community level.
“As the Federation supports the nation’s humanities councils to strengthen the civic, cultural, and social fabric of our nation through the humanities, I am hearted to see the results of this survey that tell us healing begins in the community: The path forward starts with empathy, respect, and relationship building,” said Stein.
Doug Linkhart, President of the National Civic League, said: “I was pleased to see the results of this survey. It confirms what we hear from people around the country, which is that there is more that unites us than divides us and that, despite the publicity given to conflict, most people want racial healing, equity, and unity.”
Dr. Christopher said NCHE will remain at the forefront, helping lift the voices for racial healing and unity.
“This is the nation’s path forward,” she said. “This will be an annual poll so we can consistently demonstrate that there is way more good in America than is being represented. The authentic narrative is that of a nation that wants and will do better. Equity and fairness are achievable. We need to amplify those thoughts and beliefs.”
(For broadcast or print interviews with Dr. Christopher, please contact Michael Frisby at [email protected] or 202-625-4328.)
Download a PDF version of the Press Release: Here
Eli Lilly & Co., a pharmaceutical company that produces insulin, has announced that it will cap out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 a month for all Americans, regardless of their insurance status. This move comes after President Joe Biden urged drugmakers to lower insulin prices as part of his healthcare agenda.
NCHE MARKS 7TH ANNUAL NATIONAL DAY OF RACIAL HEALING WITH LAUNCH OF A PODCAST SERIES & RELEASE OF SCHOLARLY PAPERS ON RACIAL EQUITY
WASHINGTON – Celebrating the 7th annual National Day of Racial Healing, the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) today released an inspiring roundtable discussion with NCHE Senior Scholars on striving for racial equity and announced the launch of their new podcast series, NCHE PRESENTS: Leaders Pursuing Health Equity In America.
The roundtable, which is moderated by NCHE Executive Director Dr. Gail C. Christopher, is a component of NCHE’s partnership with publisher Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., and its Health Equity journal. Mary Ann Liebert is the official publishing partner of NCHE. The Health Equity journal will publish the roundtable, as well as comprehensive papers written by NCHE Senior Scholars – five distinguished academic and social justice leaders who provide insights and expertise on various aspects of racial equity and social justice.
“We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of the health of our nation,” said Dr. Christopher. “We are moving forward from the worst public health crisis America has ever experienced. So many have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. But we remain hopeful that the era of racial reckoning in response to the brutal murder of George Floyd will yield positive results that help eliminate racism and facilitate racial healing.”
It was seven years ago today that the National Day of Racial Healing was launched by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation as part of a comprehensive framework that calls for acknowledgement of the pain caused by racism and provides concrete methods of healing the wounds of the past and moving forward towards racial equity in our communities.
“While divisiveness grabs the headlines, there is a strong undercurrent and momentum for racial healing and progress towards what Dr. King called ‘the beloved community,’ “Dr. Christopher said. “Over the last seven years the National Day of Racial Healing has expanded
into hundreds of communities. People of all races and ethnicities celebrate efforts to eradicate racism, end health inequity and value the humanity of all people.”
The inaugural group of NCHE Senior Scholars are Charmaine Royal, PhD, MS, Robert O. Keohane Professor of African & African American Studies, Biology, Global Health, and Family Medicine & Community Health at Duke University; Lisa Sockabasin, MS, a Citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe at Motahkomikum and co-CEO of Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness; Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD, LFAPA, a Social Psychiatrist and Professor of Urban Policy and Health at The New School; Alan Jenkins, JD, MA, Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School; and Algernon Austin, PhD, Director for Race and Economic Justice at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
The next issue of Health Equity, which will be published on January 20, 2023, will include articles by the NCHE Senior Scholars. Their work aligns with the pillars of a framework that engages communities, organizations, and individuals from multiple sectors across the United States in racial healing and addressing present-day inequities linked to historic and contemporary beliefs in a hierarchy of human value.
In her paper, Royal examines narrative change and concludes there must be “a shift in our approach” if America is to truly address the systemic racism embedded in our society. Focused on racial healing and relationships, Sockabasin writes eloquently about the state of our society and how to get it back on track. With a special interest in the relationship between the collapse of communities and decline in health, Fullilove examines separation through history and its impact on health. Jenkins recounts the turbulent relationship between law and equity in our nation and discusses the elements that can lead to major progress through law, and recommends specific steps that different actors can take to move an equity and opportunity agenda forward. Austin writes that racist ideas and practices help to structure American society by being in dialogue with the economy of the society.
“The roundtable discussion and the accompanying articles contribute to our healing journey. The National Day of Racial Healing is the appropriate time for them to be consumed as people celebrate our progress towards a fair and just society for all,” said Dr. Christopher, who led the creation of the National Day of Racial Healing while serving as a vice president and senior advisor at the Kellogg Foundation.
As a component of its National Day of Racial Healing celebration, NCHE also launches its podcast series. Hosted by Dr. Christopher, the premier episode is an engaging conversation with Dr. Kaiwipuni Punihei Lipe. She is an extraordinary leader who discusses the culture of native Hawaiians, the challenges they face and a special bond with their homeland.
The conversation is consistent with the National Day of Racial Healing’s overarching theme, as Dr. Christopher and Dr. Lipe discuss the power of healing and the “connectiveness” between all people on earth. Both the podcast and the work of the NCHE Senior Scholars underscore the value of healing that is the prevalent message on this day.
“America is beginning the real work of seeding and growing the capacity to value the humanity of all people,” Dr. Christopher said. “This will require understanding the need to see ourselves in one another, to develop automatic responses of empathy and compassion needed to build bridges of trust that are required for carrying the weight of the truth of our nation’s past. The National Day of Racial Healing is a key contributor to building that trust.”
Download Full Press Release (PDF): Here
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2021
Michael K. Frisby
Statement by Dr. Gail C. Christopher, Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity
NATIONAL DAY OF RACIAL HEALING CELEBRATES THE VOICES IN AMERICA CALLING FOR UNITY AND PEACE
Dr. Christopher’s Complete Video Message is HERE
WASHINGTON – “The National Collaborative for Health Equity has a vision and a mission to eliminate health inequities and to help create conditions that will allow all people to experience optimal health and well-being. But we know that the biggest barrier to achieving that mission is racism. And so, as part of our work, we are helping this country to overcome racism and its harmful legacy. Today is the 6th annual National Day of Racial Healing. Why focus a day on racial healing? Because we need to lift up the voices for unity, for peace, for engaging communities in the process of learning how to see ourselves in the face of the perceived other. America was built on a fallacy, on a hierarchy of human value. In the early centuries of this country that belief system was enacted through the decimation and the taking of the lands of indigenous people, the forced enslavement of African people, immigration policies that were based on that racial hierarchy.
“This notion of racism is built into the systems and structures of our society. And to a large measure, we’re in denial about that as a root cause and a root threat to the very viability of our democracy. Now, if you turn on the news these days, you’ll hear whispers about the possibility of a civil war. You’ll also hear about surveys that say that a large number of people think that political violence is okay.
“I want us to recognize that we have the power to quiet those voices. We have the power to come together as a society and actualize the core tenets of our democracy. All people were created equal and all people should have an equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But that will only happen when all people, and certainly the majority of people, actually commit to that as our primary work. And that’s what the National Day of Racial Healing is about. It’s about paying attention to the unfinished business of creating an equitable society. It’s about working to eliminate the permission to devalue some people and value others based on superficial characteristics. And it’s about creating structures of opportunity and putting in place practices that understand the complexity of that work.
“We created the National Day of Racial Healing to fall every year one day after we celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr holiday. Why is that? Because it’s a day that we set aside to pay attention to the reasons Dr. King both lived and died to help us as a country believe that we could create the Beloved Community. And, the Beloved Community is built on valuing all people equally.
“I’m excited that our national partners are also committed to this work. Over 300 organizations are supporting the call for the creation of a National Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT). Many communities are implementing a version of the TRHT process. I define racial healing as our individual and collective efforts to eliminate the belief in the false hierarchy of human value. And most importantly, to replace that belief with a reverence and respect and regard for our interconnectedness and learning how to see ourselves in the face of the other or the perceived other. That’s learning how to be empathetic, how to be compassionate and how to translate that empathy and compassion into standing up for justice in this country and for fair and equitable opportunities.
“Voices are calling for unity and peace, calling for embracing our full humanity as a society, the full humanity of all of us. And we know that we must do this for ourselves and for future generations. Our democracy depends on our collective effort to heal and to transform. I hope this National Day of Racial Healing is an important day for you because you recognize the primacy of this work.”
Download PDF Version HERE.
Public Health Institute: Press Release
Thirteen major philanthropic foundations have pooled resources to launch Together Toward Health, a $20 million initiative to stop the spread of coronavirus and strengthen health and resilience in California’s most impacted communities. Supporting foundations include: The Ballmer Group, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Health Care Foundation, Genentech, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, The Sierra Health Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and the Weingart Foundation (Read more).
Achieving health equity requires eliminating racism. We are supportive of Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s ongoing and long-standing leadership on issues of racial justice and equity. She has introduced a resolution calling for the creation of a US Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Commission. We at National Collaborative for Health Equity encourage you to educate decision makers about this important effort and raise your voices in support. Please see the related press kit and supporting documents below.
June 1, 2020
Statement by Dr. Gail C. Christopher, Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity
AMERICA URGENTLY NEEDS TRUTH, RACIAL HEALING, AND TRANSFORMATION TO BRING UNITY, EQUITY AND RACIAL HEALING TO OUR NATION
“Today, the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) enthusiastically applauds the House Resolution urging that a United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) be established. As cited in the Resolution, a devastating belief in racial hierarchy has fueled injustices against populations of color for centuries. It has resulted in structurally-based inequities in America’s systems, particularly biased healthcare that diminishes our well-being, and patterns of discrimination in public policies and private practices throughout our society. NCHE believes that a TRHT Commission can help jettison the hierarchy of human value and launch a new era where all human beings are valued and have the capacity to see ourselves in one another.
“NCHE envisions a TRHT Commission that will facilitate racial healing and shape policies and practices that will change community narratives, broaden the understanding that Americans have for their diverse experiences, and encourage communities to unite and work together towards policies that benefit everyone. As a nation, it is imperative that we acknowledge the inequities of the past, their persistence today, and then act earnestly to heal the wounds and move forward. The TRHT Commission can lead our nation in addressing this unfinished business. Americans can come together, to collectively help change attitudes and beliefs, hearts and minds and transform our country into one that embodies equity and fairness for all people. The TRHT Commission can help us hold each other accountable as the healing work proceeds in our homes, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and places of worship. We can make a solemn commitment to unifying the nation, rejecting racism, and finding strength, not resentment, in our differences.
“In recent weeks, as COVID-19 disproportionately infected and killed people of color, it has become even more clear that racism and the belief in a hierarchy of human value has accelerated barriers to health, housing, education and economic opportunities in communities of color, creating environments where the coronavirus can spread. Further, unarmed people of color continue to be targeted by citizens and law enforcement, and are being killed at alarming rates. But the US Commission on TRHT can help build a path towards real change for our nation, thereby helping eliminate conditions that are determinants of poor health outcomes. These conditions include residential segregation, concentrated poverty, low-wage jobs, food insecurity, environmental pollution and under-resourced school systems. The nation must collectively examine how the belief in a hierarchy of human value became embedded in the culture and structures of American society, including racial violence and police brutality. Together, we can work with civic, government, religious, community and private sector leaders to design and implement effective actions to permanently uproot racism, replacing it with actualized principles, policies and practices of equity.
“This is a path towards assuring dignity and respect among populations, transforming societies to move beyond differing races, religions, ethnicities and conflict to embracing unity and a connected-approach towards creating environments where everyone, and especially children, can have equal opportunities and thrive. This work is all more urgent now, as most of our nation’s young children are children of color. Our collective futures are at stake.”
(The proposed U.S. Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) is informed by ongoing TRHT work on college campuses and in several US cities. Originally funded in 2017 by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and several other philanthropies, this model and framework for action was created by Dr. Gail C. Christopher while she served as senior advisor and Vice President for TRHT at the Kellogg Foundation. To schedule print or broadcast interviews with Dr. Christopher, please contact: Michael K. Frisby, 202-625-4328 or [email protected].)
January 17, 2019
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
With the partial government shutdown nearing the four-week point, the undersigned organizations call on Congress and the President to immediately reopen the government to minimize any further impact on the public’s health and wellbeing. Several agencies’ ability to provide critical services, ranging from food and environmental risk inspections to health services, have already been drastically reduced or are threatened if the shutdown continues. We fear a prolonged shutdown will cause needless suffering and have long-lasting health consequences.
Basic health protections could be endangered by an ongoing shutdown. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is suspending its routine food inspections except at “high-risk facilities,” and its ability to enforce food safety rules may be sharply impaired as 40 percent of its workforce is furloughed. The FDA oversees 80 percent of the food supply, and regular inspections and enforcement help stop foodborne illness before people get sick. The FDA also will not be able to assess new drug and device applications if the shutdown continues, meaning life-saving innovations will take longer to come to market.
There are also increased environmental risks to the health of the public. The Environmental Protection Agency has suspended its inspections of chemical factories, power plants and water treatment operations while the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is no longer investigating and assessing environmental health threats.
The shutdown is having cascading impacts on the public’s health through loss of income and potential cuts to programs that families rely on for health and economic stability. Access to nutrition and food assistance, breastfeeding support and infant nutrition through U.S. Department of Agriculture programs is critical to maintaining health and performance in school and work. Programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) are at serious risk of benefit cuts if the shutdown continues. And 800,000 Americans are furloughed or working without paychecks, which puts their ability to pay rent and utilities, access medicines, and put food on the table in jeopardy. Residents simply cannot maintain their health without stable housing, food and medical care.
Indian Country has been disproportionately impacted by the shutdown, which is curtailing health care and programs for American Indian communities. The Indian Health Service (IHS) receives its funding through the Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, so tribal governments are cutting other services and scraping together scarce dollars to keep health clinics operational in the short term. Many IHS employees working without pay are already reportedly looking for other jobs, which would be a huge blow to an agency that has great difficulty recruiting and retaining medical professionals in rural and remote areas. The shutdown is destabilizing Native health delivery and health care provider access, as well as destabilizing tribal governments, families, children and individuals. Services will be cut, and serious consequences to health and safety will be the result if the shutdown is not ended
A prolonged shutdown will continue to put the health and safety of the nation’s residents at risk. It is vital that Congress and the President work to reopen the government as soon as possible to minimize the effects of the impasse.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2016
NATIONAL COLLABORATIVE FOR HEALTH EQUITY AND WAYNE COUNTY, MI DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, VETERANS AND COMMUNITY WELLNESS ANNOUNCE COMMUNITY CONFERENCE AND ANNIVERSARY RECEPTION FOR FLAGSHIP EQUITY ADVANCEMENT PROGRAM
WASHINGTON DC, October 27, 2016– The National Collaborative for Health Equity and the Wayne County Collaborative for Health Equity team at the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness announce an inaugural Community Conference and accompanying 10th Anniversary reception in Detroit, MI on November 10, 2016. The ticketed event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Downtown Detroit Riverfront hotel. Funded by a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Collaboratives for Health Equity National Community of Practice (CHE) is a groundbreaking program designed to build the capacity of leaders to identify and address social, economic, and environmental factors that shape health and life opportunities.
In its 10th year, CHE will convene 30 leaders from public and private sectors to engage in conversation and share strategies for advancing equity and opportunity on a local level. This one-day Community Conference showcases how national, regional, and local organizations that focus on improving the health and well-being of communities collaborate for success and features examples of innovative multi-sector policy change campaigns, and programs from around the State of Michigan.
The theme for this year’s meeting is People. Power. Purpose. Working Together to Advance Equity & Improve Community.
CHE reflects the National Collaborative for Health Equity’s mission and commitment to promote health equity by catalyzing collaboration among racial equity advocates, grassroots and community-based organizations, researchers, public health professionals and other stakeholders.
CHE is a growing learning community of 21 teams working in over 27 jurisdictions throughout the United States. Teams work to leverage the experiences of local leaders to create just and equitable communities for vulnerable children and their families.
Commenting on the program, Executive Director, Brian Smedley, Ph.D. remarked;
“Collaboratives for Health Equity teams have successfully improved conditions for health at the local level while participating in a national community of practice which provides innovative examples of health equity work for communities around the country. With a strong focus on understanding how racism operates at many levels to increase risks for poor health in communities of color, CHE teams are supporting communities as they leverage their resiliency and power to advance health equity.”
Gita Rampersad, JD, MHA, Senior Director for Program and Strategy at NCHE, added;
“We are excited to host a Community Conference in Detroit, MI during our 10th anniversary year of the Collaboratives for Health Equity program. A key to developing national equity experts centers on supporting effective engagement and action in our local communities.”
Dr. Mouhanad Hammami, MD, Director of the Wayne County Department of HVCW also commented;
“Public health departments should have an important role in ensuring equities and eliminating disparities in health in communities and be the chief health strategists for what makes their communities well. This Inaugural Community Conference is a perfect example of how HVCW works together with The National Collaborative for Health Equity and other stakeholders to address the social determinants of health and community wellness in Wayne County.”
About The National Collaborative for Health Equity: The National Collaborative for Health Equity was launched in August 2014 as a project of the New Venture Fund to serve as catalysts of the kinds of partnerships and collaboration – between policymakers, researchers, industry, community groups, and others – necessary to create healthier, more equitable communities. The National Collaborative supports several programs and initiatives incubated over many years at the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political & Economic Studies while also working to develop new initiatives to advance the health equity movement. For more information visit https://www.nationalcollaborative.org/.
About the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness: The Department of Health, Veterans and Community Wellness is responsible for coordinating and administering health, social, educational, Veterans and youth services to communities and residents in Wayne County so they can lead healthy and productive lives. For more information visit www.waynecounty.com.
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