NEW EPISODE OF NCHE PRESENTS: LEADERS PURSUING HEALTH EQUITY IN AMERICA: LEARN HOW AINKA JACKSON HELPS BRING RACIAL HEALING TO SELMA
On the new NCHE PRESENTS: Leaders Pursuing Health Equity in America podcast (audio), Ainka Jackson, founding Executive Director of the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth, and Reconciliation, is committed to eliminating “the cancer that is racism” and facilitating economic justice, she tells host Dr. Gail C. Christopher on the new episode of the NCHE PRESENTS: Leaders Pursuing Health Equity in America podcast.
The center was founded in 2014, Jackson says, “to address different forms of violence, whether that be economic violence, whether that be racial violence or whether that be physical violence.” She adds, “It’s insane that this place where nonviolence overcame violence was the eighth most dangerous place in the country in 2016. And we believe that broken relationships led to broken economies, leading to broken communities, all in need of healing.”
But the center’s work has made a difference. “We work with communities to heal relationships, to heal the economy and heal communities, not to fix, but to heal,” she says, noting that their formula includes addressing the root causes of issues. Fueled by their community work and efforts of their partners, murders in Selma declined by nearly 40% in 2022 after an increase of 56% from 2016 to 2021.
“The work is so impressive,” responds Dr. Christopher, the Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE). “When we think of Selma, we imagine the (1965 Selma to Montgomery March), we imagine that original work back there in the Civil Rights era. And for you to give us this data today, it’s just heart-wrenching. I’m excited to hear about some of the success that you had and some of the ways that you know you’re succeeding.”
The center implemented a violence intervention program in communities, which is bolstered by the HOPE data collection initiative run by NCHE. Jackson describes their comprehensive program, which addresses both victims and perpetrators, while targeting the inequities endured by everyone in the community.
“It’s rooted in nonviolence, which is unique for violence intervention programs,” Jackson says. “A lot of them aren’t, but given our history of nonviolence in this city, we thought that was important to help produce a cultural shift. Our street outreach workers come from the communities in which they serve, which is essential. They are trusted leaders, trusted community members, trusted vessels to intervene, to actually go to the scenes when there is violence, but also to be in the communities day-to-day, connecting people with employment and educational opportunities, ensuring that people have what they need; but getting to the root causes of why there is violence and building the Beloved Community. The last component is victim services. We are one of few models that actually serve potential perpetrators and victims. When getting to the root causes, we understand that all of these people are impacted by the root causes. Our victim services – our survivor services programs: whether it’s helping to plan a funeral of a loved one, helping to find resources, doing victim compensation, or doing restorative justice, are making sure that healing (is taking place). Making sure that those families have what they need is an essential part of this work. It’s the hard part of this work, particularly when there are so few mental health resources in a rural area. But our team is making it happen.”
Further, Jackson cites the racial healing that is drawing people together. “We had a White evangelical Trump supporter that recruited more people to our racial equity training locally than anybody else,” she says. “We are very intentional about rooting our work in love. And let me be clear, love is action… love is justice.”
Dr. Christopher applauds her work, saying, “That is so powerful. So many things you said just landed…in terms of the realities of your community. At the same time resilience and your capacity to do the hard work of connecting people at a heart level – so few people are willing to to be patient and to extend that grace. I’m just so happy to lift your story and to have people hear it. This matters, it makes a difference.”
To hear more of their enlightening conversation, tune in HERE
NEW EPISODE OF NCHE PRESENTS: LEADERS PURSUING HEALTH EQUITY IN AMERICA: LEARN HOW AUTHENTIC ENGAGEMENTS IMPACT RACIST BELIEFS & BEHAVIOR
On the new NCHE PRESENTS: Leaders Pursuing Health Equity in America podcast (audio), Angela Waters Austin, executive director of One Love Global Inc., demonstrates the power of authentic engagements to address racism, telling host Dr. Gail Christopher about healing circles and discussions that generated positive results and changed beliefs. She also says the COVID-19 pandemic forced community organizations to adopt creative approaches.
Throughout a reflective conversation, Dr. Christopher and Austin discuss the challenges and successes of their work that aims to heal racial wounds of the past and create paths forward that can transform American society. A chief objective is eliminating racism and uprooting the false belief in a hierarchy of human value, an antiquated notion that the human family can be divided and ranked based on skin color, physical characteristics, and ascribed traits.
In their talk, Austin recites authentic stories from her work at One Love Global, a non-profit working to transform communities so Black children experience justice, peace, healing, opportunity, and abundance.
Our communities are creating new narratives about the present and the past that raise expectations for equity, fairness and justice. This approach is building trust, relationships and healing across the divides, across racial and class lines. And in so doing, we are expanding the circle of engagement. We are building a critical mass and ultimately a majority, and super majority, of people who will unite behind the TRHT movement and transform our country.
In the NCHE podcasts, we will lift up leaders, who are finding innovative ways to generate healing and build the bridge to tomorrow. We will talk to leaders addressing the entrenched legacy of separation and segregation. We will strategize with those tackling the racist policies and legal structures that continue to impede progress. And we will hear from leaders working to create economic opportunities that can stabilize families Join our host, NCHE Executive Director Dr. Gail Christopher, on this journey. Tune in to NCHE PRESENTS: Leaders Pursuing Health Equity in America.
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
January 4, 2022
Michael K. Frisby
Statement by Dr. Gail C. Christopher, Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity
Unlocking Our Fifth Freedom
President Joe Biden recently signed into law the Respect for Marriage Act. This landmark United States federal law passed by the 117th U.S. Congress repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), requires the U.S. federal government and all U.S. states and territories to recognize the validity of same-sex and interracial civil marriages in the U.S., and protects religious liberty.
While we must all applaud this amazing bi-partisan breakthrough, we should all be appalled that such a law was needed in this democratic nation, in this the 21st-century. Why is there a need to protect a fundamental human right and freedom for adults to love and marry interracially or to a person of the same gender? I think the answer is because America is a nation and a democracy that is yet becoming. We are, in the global context, still a young nation learning how to be a multiracial, multi-ethnic, diverse, self-governing democracy. We still have a lot of work to do.
Congressional and presidential leadership are a vital part of this important work. I am reminded of the leadership of President Franklin D Roosevelt, who galvanized and lifted the consciousness of the American people by reminding them of the meaning of democracy in a time when the Great Depression was limiting hope. In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Roosevelt articulated four freedoms – the freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom to be free from want and freedom from fear.
It was another iteration of our founding principles, every person’s right to life, to liberty, and to the pursuit of happiness. But here we are in 2022, still needing to codify into law a fifth freedom – a freedom to love. I believe this is our most important freedom. And although it was not articulated by then President Roosevelt or by the founding fathers, freedom to love is the required element in a lasting democracy. By signing this legislation, President Biden affirmed this truth.
It is also meaningful that this freedom became law during the same week that the White House hosted a summit of leaders from 49 African countries. During this summit, President Biden spoke directly about what he described as America’s original sin of slavery: “We remember the stolen men and women and children were brought to our shores in chains…My nation’s original sin was that period.” There is a clear relationship and through line from this original sin and the present day need for the landmark Respect for Marriage Act. Denial of a person’s freedom to love and marry is a denial of a person’s humanity. The institution of enslavement of Africans and the decimation of Native American people could only have been justified by denying our humanity.
It is time for America to begin the real work of seeding and growing a democracy capable of valuing the humanity of all people. This requires developing the skills and the capacities to begin 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 inhumane and horrific past acts. While laudable, the Respect for Marriage Act is like a tourniquet applied to the bleeding limb of a wounded soldier; it will only be lifesaving if the body receives the care it needs immediately. For America, that care is the will to move forward, to heal and repair the vestiges of past wrongs, and create and sustain equitable communities.
The immediate care that our national body politic requires is an investment to create and support a new cultural infrastructure, a psychological emotional infrastructure of love and caring that is strong enough to withstand and repel the attacks of false narratives and hate, driven by nefarious motives for power and control. The good news is that communities and college campuses are doing this work all across America. Philanthropy is supporting their efforts. But the original sin was committed by this federal government and enforced for centuries by all branches of our government. America’s national, state, and local governments organized and institutionalized lovelessness throughout history. People were lynched and brutalized, families were destroyed, women were raped and children were taken. All this was done in the name of a belief in a false hierarchy of human value. A unified and robust correction is long overdue.
Congressional efforts are currently underway through H.Con.Res.19 – Urging the establishment of a United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation and H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act, introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Both H.Con.Res.19 and H.R.40 have significant co-sponsorships –168 and 196, respectively in the 117th Congress. In this time of increasing and expanding polarization, congressional and presidential leadership are critically needed to further these efforts to assure the viability of our democracy by building our capacity to love one another equally as human beings.
For America, freedom to love is the beginning of our transformation.
On the premier episode of our podcast, NCHE PRESENTS: Leaders Pursuing Health Equity in America, host Dr. Gail C. Christopher talks with guest Dr. Kaiwipuni Punihei Lipe about the culture of native Hawaiians and their connectiveness with their homeland.
Tune in to learn more about the incredible spirit of native Hawaiians, the challenges they face to stay connected to their homelands and the connectiveness they believe links all things on earth.
“In all places in the world, I believe that at one time or another there were principles that connected us to each other and a place for us in our stories,” says Dr. Lipe. “We know that we are born from this land, that the land, the sky, the sea, the birds, the plants, the animals they’re all part of our family. It’s a lens or a framework that invites us always to be thinking of the ways we are connected, even when we’re not biologically related. And so that is a core principle that we are trying to teach anyone who is in our presence.”
Citing spiritual strength and resiliency of their culture, Dr. Lipe notes that many Hawaiians struggle “in so many ways, all very connected to the loss of our lands.” She adds that “more than half of native Hawaiians live outside of Hawaii. We cannot afford to live on our own homelands.”
Find out more about Dr. Lipe’s thoughts on Hawaiian culture and “connectiveness” on Earth on the premier episode of the NCHE PRESENTS: Leaders Pursuing Health Equity in America podcast. https://youtu.be/E-N-hcyW4Mw
America Dissected released a new podcast “Racism is a Public Health Issue with Dr. Matías Valenzuela”
Dr. Matas Valenzuela was a member of the King County Collaboratives for Health Equity (CHE) team at NCHE.
Statement by Dr. Gail C. Christopher, Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity
FOOD INSECURITY MUST BECOME A NATIONAL PRIORITY
WASHINGTON, DC – “The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) applauds President Biden for hosting the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health last week, the first in more than 50 years. The administration provided a much-needed platform for these critical issues that are too often overlooked by families, public officials, and community leaders. We ask the administration to continue pursuing food security. The federal government must place more emphasis on food security – both reducing hunger and eliminating the ‘food deserts’ that plague urban communities of color, where fresh, healthy food is not conveniently available.
“For decades, the private sector has chosen not to significantly invest in grocery stores in urban communities of color, leaving residents with diets dominated by unhealthy foods. These corporate investment decisions fuel chronic conditions like obesity that increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer, which lead to poor health outcomes and premature deaths. In total, more than 19 million people live in the food deserts.
“The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that before the worst of the pandemic roughly 35 million Americans, including more than 5 million children, were unable to meet their food needs or know where their next meal was coming from. Further, Blacks and Hispanics are affected disproportionately, with 19.1 % of Black households and 15.6 % of Hispanic households experiencing food insecurity, compared to only 7.9% of White households.
“It is a problem that cannot be ignored any longer.
“Three organizations, NCHE, the Texas Health Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University tracked food security and other indicators of health during a massive data gathering initiative known as the HOPE Initiative. The program provides interactive data to help states and the nation move beyond measuring disparities to spurring action toward achieving health equity.
“The HOPE researchers confirmed the disturbing lack of food security but also explained what it would take to fix the nation’s food security problem. In Texas 4.3 million people needed to achieve food security to reach HOPE’s 97% threshold, in Arizona the number was 930,150 residents and in Mississippi it was 803,839 people.
“We know the task is arduous. But all of America, including our public, private and non-profit sectors, must show the resolve to improve food security so every American enjoys healthier life outcomes. Food security can have a positive impact on our society by boosting economic productivity, creating better educational outcomes, and preventing avoidable health care costs from nutrition-related health issues. Together, America can make it happen.”
Download Full Press Release (PDF): Here
Chair of the TFAH Board of Directors Gail Christopher, D.N. and President and CEO J. Nadine Gracia, M.D., MSCE released the following statement in recognition of Juneteenth, 2022.
(Washington, DC – June 17, 2022) — “Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom. It’s also a day on which we should recognize that as a nation we have more work to do before all Americans are free from the burdens of social, economic, and health inequities.
Well over a century after the first Juneteenth, structural racism continues to have far-reaching impacts on health, well-being, and opportunity.
Our goal is to recommend policies that will advance the social, economic, and environmental conditions that promote health by ensuring equitable access to high-quality childcare, education, employment, safe and affordable housing, transportation, and healthcare for all Americans.”
Trust for America’s Health calls for the following policy actions to reverse the impact of structural racism in America:
- Make advancing health equity and eliminating health disparities a national priority. This includes increasing funding for programs that advance healthy equity, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health and Healthy Tribes Programs.
- Invest in multisector efforts to address upstream drivers of poor health through CDC’s Social Determinants of Health program.
- Target the elimination of poverty by increasing the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit at the national and state levels.
- Increase access to high-quality healthcare for all by strengthening incentives to expand Medicaid in all states and by making marketplace coverage more affordable for low-and moderate-income people.
- Create a national standard mandating job-protected paid family and medical leave for all employees.
- Increase funding for programs that promote long-term security and good health for children and families, including programs designed to expand access to affordable housing, Head Start, Early Head Start, and nutrition support programs such as Healthy School Meals for All, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
For more information about these and other policy recommendations see these TFAH reports:
A Blueprint for the 2021 Administration and Congress – The Promise of Good Health for All: Transforming Public Health in America.
Leveraging Evidence-Based Policies to Improve Health, Control Costs, and Create Health Equity
The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) applauds the work of TFAH and supports these vital social policy actions. NCHE recognizes that we have to generate the public will for enacting and sustaining the needed policies. One vehicle for doing this is the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) work of communities across America. This work involves changing false narratives, building trusted relationships, as well as addressing the systemic and institutional legacies of the false ideology of the hierarchy of human value.
While the federal holiday, Juneteenth, enables us to celebrate the end of slavery, we must all remember that the beliefs that animated it for centuries lived on and continue to exist today. Racism must end.
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.
The American Constitution Society, in its support for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Commission (TRHT), recently spoke with Dr. Gail Christopher from the National Collaborative for Health Equity to learn why TRHT is necessary in the United States.