Healing Through Policy
Creating Pathways to Racial Justice

OVERVIEW

Through resolutions, executive orders and other measures local leaders are declaring racism a public health crisis and committing to addressing systemic health and racial inequities. However, local leaders grapple with determining which policies and practices can deliver meaningful change toward health, racial equity and justice.

Healing through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice is an initiative of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, the de Beaumont Foundation, and the American Public Health Association. The initiative is identifying a suite of racial equity policies and practices that can be implemented at the local level to promote racial healing and address social inequities.

The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) model is the guiding framework for the initiative’s approach. The TRHT framework is a comprehensive, national and community-based process to plan and implement transformational and sustainable change, targeting the historic and contemporary effects of racism. TRHT recognizes that advancing racial equity and justice requires acknowledging past harms, addressing the underlying beliefs that fuel racism and facilitating healing within and across communities. Healing through Policy is using the TRHT framework to develop a menu of policies and practices that advance health and racial equity. The components of the framework are: Narrative Change, Racial Healing and Relationship Building, Separation, Law, and Economy. A policy advisory committee of diverse policy experts, partners, stakeholders and community representatives will select the most promising options to make up the policy and practice menu.

HEALING
THROUGH POLICY

Dr. Gail C. Christopher

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Summary of Policies and Practices

Leaders are exploring the policies and practices that are most needed to move from commitment to action and how to best use policy to effect meaningful change toward health, racial equity, and justice.

Narrative Change

The Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation implementation guide says the concept of narrative change refers to the fact that “The human brain is hardwired to capture stories and associated images to construct conscious and implicit meaning and beliefs. Stories make up our individual and collective narratives about reality. Achieving racial equity and healing from the trauma of centuries of legal, institutional and structured racial hierarchy requires transforming our experiences, stories and understandings about the equal and inherent value of all humanity.”

Racial Healing & Relationship Building

The THRT framework defines “to heal” as to restore to wholeness, to repair damage, and to set right. Healing a societal racial divide requires acknowledging the wrongs of the past, while also addressing the consequences of those wrongs. Racial healing involves focusing on ways for all of us to heal from the wounds of the past, to build mutually respectful relationships across racial and ethnic lines that honor and value each person’s humanity, and to build trusting intergenerational and diverse community relationships that better reflect our common humanity. Racial healing is about building relationships, connecting people, and expanding the circles of engagement needed for overcoming racial hierarchy and building political will.

Separation

The belief in a hierarchy of human value is sustained by keeping people apart. In cutting off Indigenous people from their rights to self-governance and controlling access to such basic resources as food and water, colonization is the original form of separation, and it serves to benefit white society. Within the TRHT Framework, separation is defined as the division of groups based on a particular characteristic, including race and/or socioeconomic status.

Law

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” the preamble of the Declaration of Independence asserts. As the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation TRHT Design Team acknowledges, “Unfortunately, the “certain unalienable Rights” and “Liberty” was not meant for those whose basic humanity had long been denied by the founders.”

Economy

For centuries, people of color in the United States have been denied equal access to Resources and opportunities. From the forcible displacement of Indigenous people, to the enslavement and exploitation of Black Americans, to the historic and present-day exclusion of immigrant groups and exploitation of people of color in the workforce, inequity is created and sustained in U.S. economic policies and practices.

BACKGROUND READING

Business Case for Racial Equity

Striving for racial equity—a world where race is no longer a factor in the distribution of opportunity—is a matter of social justice. But moving toward racial equity can generate significant economic returns as well. When people face barriers to achieving their full potential, the loss of talent, creativity, energy, and productivity is a burden not only for those disadvantaged, but for communities, businesses, governments, and the economy as a whole.

The Neuroscience of Intergroup Relations

We review emerging research on the psychological and biological factors that underlie social group formation, cooperation, and conflict in humans. Our aim is to integrate the intergroup neuroscience literature with classic theories of group processes and intergroup relations in an effort to move beyond merely describing the effects of specific social out-groups on the brain and behavior. Instead, we emphasize the underlying psychological processes that govern intergroup interactions more generally: forming and updating our representations of “us” and “them” via social identification and functional relations between groups.