Healing Through Policy
Creating Pathways to Racial Justice


Across the country, there is growing acknowledgment of the impact of racism on the health of individuals and communities. Through resolutions, executive orders, and other mechanisms, many local leaders are declaring racism a public health crisis and are committing to addressing systemic health and racial inequities. 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.

Launched in October 2021, Healing Through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice is an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the National Collaborative for Health Equity, in collaboration with Results for America.

Using the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation framework, Healing Through Policy offers local leaders a suite of policies and practices that are being implemented across the country to promote racial healing and address social inequities.

To be included in the suite, each policy or practice must:

  • Have been successfully implemented in at least one jurisdiction;
  • Show promise of impact on health and racial equity (via evidence or expert opinion);
  • Acknowledge and address historic racial injustices and demonstrate meaningful engagement of impacted communities; and
  • Be under local jurisdictional authority.

In 2022 and 2023, Healing Through Policy partner organizations will convene communities of practice to identify, plan actions, and disseminate the local steps needed to implement a subset of curated policies and practices from the suite. The partners will provide technical assistance to communities of practice undertaking these efforts.

The communities of practice model will be used to:

  • Organize groups of people from diverse localities who share common goals for policy and practice adoption/implementation to address racism as a public health crisis;
  • Deepen communities’ learning and knowledge to collectively advance adoption/implementation; and
  • Provide a structured and facilitated venue for peer-learning and action to achieve impact in localities.

These communities of practice will have the potential to serve as a model for other localities pursuing work toward racial and health equity.



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.


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.


“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.”


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.


Data, Social Determinants, and Better Decision-Making for Health

In April 2020, The Rockefeller Foundation and Boston University School of Public Health launched the Commission on Health Determinants, Data, and Decision-Making (3-D Commission) with the aim of creating a common language among health determinants, data science, and decision-making—both health and non-health related—toward the end of improving the health of populations.

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.

Dismantling Racism and Structural Racism in Academic Public Health: A Framework

The Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH), and our member Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) accredited schools and programs, guided by principles of social justice, are committed to dismantling racism and ending the cultural and structural conditions that enable racism in academic public health institutions.