January 19, 2024 (Press Release)
WASHINGTON – The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) celebrated the 8th Annual National Day of Racial Healing with groundbreaking activities, such as releasing a series of scholarly articles amplifying the value of connecting across racial, ethnic, and other perceived differences to embrace a shared humanity. And, working with publisher Mary Ann Libert Inc., NCHE also released a roundtable discussion on research showing that many Americans seek unity and want to embrace racial healing.
On January 16, an extraordinary day when more than 200 communities across the United States held National Day of Racial Healing events, NCHE continued its pursuit of health equity by emphasizing the need to eliminate racism.
“We recognize that health inequities and health disparities will only end when we end racism,” said Dr. Gail C. Christopher, NCHE’s executive director. “NCHE is expanding our mission to do just that, to work on ending racism in America. We recognize it requires comprehensive strategies that include healing from past injustices.”
While serving as vice president and senior advisor at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Dr. Christopher and others were catalysts for launching the National Day of Racial Healing, which has blossomed into a national event that unites people of all races, ethnicities, and religions in communities nationwide.
In October, NCHE released the results of its first annual Heart of America Annual Survey. As described by Dr. Christopher, “We looked at the major polls used to take the pulse of our country and realized that far too many are merely capturing and amplifying a dominant narrative about division and polarization. Yet our elections continue to show the general electorate is not so extreme or polarized. NCHE developed a survey to take the pulse of America’s readiness to do the hard work of healing, overcoming our legacy of racial division, and actualizing our core democratic ideals and tenets.”
The survey, conducted by The Benenson Strategy Group, a premier strategic market research firm, found that almost a third (31%) of Americans want our nation to do the relational work that will enable us to see ourselves through a lens of shared humanity. Eight out of 10 respondents recognize that diversity in the workplace is an important requirement for us to overcome our differences, and they believe that teaching our nation’s history of racism in our school system is a necessary step in our healing and overcoming our historical divides. And more than 80% of the respondents want a leader that unites rather than divides.
“There is really a readiness in this country for us to put polarization and division behind us so that we can solve our collective and common challenges and problems,” Dr. Christopher said.
The wide-ranging discussion, which can be read by clicking HERE, includes Dr. Brian Smedley, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute; former Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring; Dr. Susan Eaton, Professor of Practice & Director, The Sillerman Center, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University; Michael Winger, is a Senior Fellow with the American Association of Colleges & Universities; and Heather McGhee, a renowned thought leader and author of an award-winning, New York Times Bestselling book, The Sum of Us—What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.
“The Heart of America Survey truly shows that a counternarrative exists to the dominant media attention on our political divisions,” said McGhee. “Yes, the Heart of America Survey says that four out of ﬁve Americans believe that the country is more divided now than ever before, but in that same survey, more than four out of ﬁve Americans are united on some of the most hot-button issues around race and our democracy, where there have been shocking decisions by state legislatures and by this conservative Supreme Court in the area of diversity policies and in the areas of book banning and censorship around our children’s freedoms to learn.”
Further, McGhee cites the “unprecedented last decade of movement building” among whites and people of color since the summer of 2020 in support of Black lives, women’s rights, and reproductive freedom.
“These movements speak to an enduring and, in fact, a growing understanding that our freedoms as Americans are secured by collective action, by people standing up for one another, by the kinds of forward progress that we can never take for granted, and there are demonstrable, quantifiable health outcomes for each of those movements’ successes,” McGhee said, noting the need for democracy to protect “our hard-won freedoms” that affect our health as well as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
As part of its commemoration of the National Day of Racial Healing, NCHE also released five scholarly articles on race and racial healing, which are important resources for leaders working to end racism and achieve health equity.
- 21st-Century Narrative Change with Focus on Social Media, written by Amy Sprecher and Aaliytha Stevens, Co-founders Building CommUnity LLC
- Facilitating Social Transformation Through Self and Collective Healing: A Collection of Insights, Resources, and Practices, written by Colette Rausch, Director, Neuroscience and Peacebuilding, Think Peace, and Laura Webber, Convener, Think Peace Learning and Support Hub
- Toward Transformative Reparations, written by Rob Corcoran, Program Design & Training Consultant, Initiatives of Change International, and Mike Wenger, Senior Fellow, American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)
- Segregation Yesterday and Today: Exploring Possibilities for Systemic Change, written by Susan Eaton, Professor of Practice & Director, The Sillerman Center, The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University
- The Economic Wellbeing of Black Americans and the Implications for Health Equity, written by Darrell J. Gaskins, Ph.D., MS, William C. and Nancy F. Richardson, Professor in Health Policy and Director, Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins School of Management and Public Health.
“Every major social transformational era in our nation’s history has been associated with major innovations in mass media and communication,” said Dr. Christopher. “The abolition of slavery emerged as newspapers and telegraphic communication became available. The civil rights movement reached the hearts of millions through television. This current era of information technology, social media, and AI significantly impacts mass communication and subsequent understanding and perception of our country and humanity…
“At NCHE, we believe those who are committed to healing, unifying, and sustaining our democracy must become a counterweight to existing irresponsible, divisive, dominant media narratives. While the Heart of America Annual Survey is national in scope, we encourage local and elected leaders to use a similar strategy at local and state levels, and we’d welcome the opportunity to partner on such endeavors.”
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
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Today, NCHE mourns the loss of Dr. John Moeser, known as the moral conscience of Richmond. Initiatives of Change/Hope in the Cities partnered with John on his groundbreaking “Unpacking the Census” series. Conversations surrounding his work raised a level of awareness about disparities present in the Metro Richmond area. It led to the development of the Office of Community Wealth Building, a city agency that has a wholistic approach to moving individuals from one social economic statue to middle class, a model that has been duplicated by other cities across the country. A lead story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch carried a tribute by Michael Paul Williams which quotes many leading Richmonders in evaluating John’s service.
Initiatives of Change honors the life of Dr. John Moeser on their website.
He will be remembered as a pioneer and champion for racial equity and a valued friend and partner.
In June 2022, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) announced a formal review to revise OMB’s Statistical Policy Directive No. 15 (Directive No. 15): Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. The first step in the formal review process for OMB’s statistical standards for collecting race and ethnicity data is well underway – and the public is encouraged to share their perspectives and input.
There are two ways the public can get involved:
1) The Working Group, through OMB, is soliciting public input on its recommended proposal for revisions to Directive No. 15 through a Federal Register Notice. If you’d like to be notified when the Federal Register Notice is published, please send a request to join the mailing list to [email protected].
2) The Working Group is holding virtual, bi-monthly listening sessions to hear directly from members of the public. To schedule a listening session, please send a brief email expressing interest to [email protected].
By Mike Ludwig, Truthout
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