NCHE MARKS 7TH ANNUAL NATIONAL DAY OF RACIAL HEALING WITH LAUNCH OF A PODCAST SERIES & RELEASE OF SCHOLARLY PAPERS ON RACIAL EQUITY

VIDEO PODCAST
ROUNDTABLE

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

Contact:
Michael K. Frisby
[email protected]/202-625-4328

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”

(Listen to Podcast here)

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:

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

Contact:
Michael K. Frisby
[email protected]/202-625-4328

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.

 

NATIONAL COLLABORATIVE FOR HEALTH EQUITY APPLAUDS AMERICA’S HEALTH RANKINGS HEALTH DISPARITY REPORT

Investing in Comprehensive Data is Critical to Achieving Health Equity

WASHINGTON – The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) today applauded the America’s Health Rankings Health Disparities Report as an example of health research that must continue to provide accurate data that is an important tool against health inequities devastating low-income and communities of color across the country.

The Disparities Report, which was produced by The United Health Foundation, found a strong link between educational attainment and health, noting that adults lacking a high school education face the greatest social, economic and health challenges. Households headed by individuals with less than a high school education have a poverty rate of 30.7%, which was six times higher than households headed by college graduates (5.2%).

“We learned from Covid-19 that incomplete health data is detrimental to communities that face health disparities,” said Dr. Gail Christopher NCHE’s executive director.  “The Disparities Report revealed important health trends that can be addressed, and lead to improved health outcomes. We must improve our knowledge of the health challenges faced in communities of color.  That was proven during the pandemic.”

A year ago, NCHE helped launch the Health Opportunity and Equity (HOPE) Initiative, a state-of-the-art platform supporting a new narrative on health inequities and providing comprehensive data on populations of color so it can be utilized as a critical resource for policymakers, as well as the medical and public health fields.

“The HOPE Initiative was groundbreaking research,” said Dr. Christopher. “The data has helped public health officials move beyond identifying inequities in communities of color to spurring action addressing social determinants affecting their health. But we can’t stop there.   The Disparities Report and other research must enlighten public health officials about the trends we often aren’t aware of until too late.”

The Disparities Report found persistent and growing disparities in maternal mortality. In 2015-2019, Black mothers (43.8 deaths per 100,0 0 0 live births) had a maternal mortality rate that was 3.4 times higher than Hispanic mothers (12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births). Between 2005-2009 and 2015-2019, maternal mortality rates increased 22% among Black mothers, from 35.8 to 43.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. But the maternal mortality rate also increased 55% for white mothers (from 11.2 to 17.3 deaths per 100,000 live births) and 23% for Hispanic mothers (from 10.3 to 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births) during this time period.

Further, the report found that deep and persistent disparities in mental and behavioral health have existed by gender, educational attainment and race and ethnicity – and have worsened for some subpopulation groups. The rate of depression was three times higher for multiracial (27.1%) and American Indian/Alaska Native adults (24.6%) and 2.5 times higher for white adults (21.1%) than Asian/Pacific Islander adults (8.6%). Despite performing better than other groups, Asian/Pacific Islander adults experienced the highest increase (23%) in the rate of depression from 7.0% in 2011-2013 to 8.6% in 2017-2019.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said, some progress was made in reducing the rate of severe housing problems. Between 2005-2009 and 2013-2017, households headed by Hispanic individuals experienced the greatest decline (11%) in severe housing problems, followed by Asian/Pacific Islander (8%) and Black individuals (5%). Despite progress in reducing the percentage of households facing severe housing problems, households headed by Hispanic (29.9%), Black (25.3%) and America Indian/Alaska Native (24.2%) individuals had a rate of severe housing problems roughly two times higher than households headed by white (13.4%) individuals.

“This is the type of health data that must continue to flow to policy makers and be leveraged for actions needed to achieve health equity,” Dr. Christopher said.

Full Report Release (PDF)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 21, 2021 

Contact:
Michael K. Frisby
[email protected]/202-625-4328 

Statement by Dr. Gail C. Christopher, Executive Director, National Collaborative for Health Equity 

GUILTY VERDICT IN GEORGE FLOYD MURDER TRIAL MARKS MAJOR ADVANCE TOWARDS RACIAL JUSTICE

WASHINGTON – “When Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill read the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, many of us openly wept.  Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty on all counts for the brutal murder of George Floyd. It was a public execution of a Black man lying helplessly in the street as police colleagues looked on callously and stunned civilian witnesses pleaded for the officer to lift his knee from Floyd’s neck.

“Chauvin is now being held accountable for his actions.

“President Biden and Vice President Harris courageously stepped into this moment of shared relief and collective humanity by calling for racial equity and publicly asserting the significance of this trial’s outcome for our nation’s journey toward racial justice.

“At NCHE, we are among the many who wept and exhaled as we accepted this sign of renewed hope that justice for people of color, especially unarmed Black people killed by police, is possible within our legal system. Centuries of injustice have demonstrated that America’s legal system is built on the failed belief in a racial hierarchy. It can and must be transformed.

“It begins with a shared vision for transformative change and the deep belief that it can happen. A rare, miraculous confluence of factors combined to create this unprecedented outcome; it is so rare that law enforcement is held accountable, especially when the victim is Black.  This may be a harbinger of system transformation. Floyd’s death spurred the largest, most sustained diverse mobilization of protests and calls for racial justice in history.  We believe this was a determining factor in the outcome.  The masses could not be denied.

“NCHE stands in solidarity with Floyd‘s family, the Black Lives Matter movement and millions of people of all races and ethnicities around the world. We send heartfelt thanks for protesting, never giving up and demanding justice. For the first time in history, millions of people stood up for a Black man, for George Floyd, and in so doing, stood up for the countless other victims. “Throughout our nation’s history, people of color have suffered and died from racist cruelty and brutality, while the legal system worked against them, rather than for justice for all.

“Transformation of entrenched systemic racism requires galvanized public will. At NCHE, we continue working to build that resolve and commitment to racial and health equity through ongoing partnerships that support truth and racial healing, convenings of community, public and private sector leaders and leveraging relevant research and data to inform effective public policies and private practices that fuel progress and change.

“Today, we join millions in breathing a bit freer now that a guilty verdict has been rendered and the humanity of George Floyd is re-affirmed.  Our march for justice goes on.”

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Full PDF: HERE