Communities across the country are trying to adjust to a new reality and address the impacts from the pandemic, racial injustice, and economic fallout, all at the same time. Through it all, The BUILD Health Challenge ® (BUILD) awardees continue to navigate topics of health equity and racial justice in their daily work with the goal of improving health in their communities. It is not easy, and there are no easy answers to the complex issues they face.

Wanting time to engage on these challenges together, BUILD’s team of alumni mentors (past awardees from across sectors) designed and hosted an online session for awardees on July 15. The webinar focused on key concepts of systemic racism and injustice. Facilitator Shavon Arline-Bradley opened the session with a powerful message: “Welcome to the party. There’s a lot of work to do. There’s a lot that’s been done, but there’s a lot more to do.”

The conversation was fueled by leaders across the nation who are involved in the racial justice movement. They came with a breadth of knowledge and experience, and it was exciting to see how they envisioned a more just world beyond this current movement. Three activists who are shaping the conversation around racial equity spoke with a common thread about the collective responsibility to understand and play an active role in undoing systemic racism. One panelist said it best: “We can no longer let a culture built upon inequity define the ways in which communities are cared for and supported. Inequities are not naturally occurring, but rather are conscious decisions people in positions of power make that sacrifice those at the margins. Fearlessly naming this dynamic is how we get to the other side.”

Moderated by Benzel Jimmerson, a community leader as well as a past BUILD awardee and current mentor, attendees navigated a dynamic conversation that described what has led us as a society to this moment, what is happening now, and how to organize for the future.

Here are three key highlights from the session featuring the guest speakers in their own words:

The ongoing fight towards justice and equity: featuring Ashton Woods
The illusions of white supremacy are coming down: featuring Theo Wilson
Deepening our understanding of systems level approaches: featuring  Candice Bailey

And now the work continues. BUILD communities are committed to addressing issues of systemic racism and advancing sustainable solutions to improve community health.

As the communities sit with these powerful and inspiring words, we are immensely grateful for their candor and willingness to help shape our shared efforts toward health equity. To the BUILD alumni who shared their platform with these racial justice leaders, thank you as well!  This session made great strides in offering thoughts and ideas that we hope will also inspire you and your community to take action. The full recording of the session can be found here.


Miya Walker is an intern with de Beaumont Foundation and supports The BUILD Health Challenge®. She is currently pursuing an MPH degree at the University of Maryland.