On this National Day of Racial Healing created by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we come together to foster truth-telling, affirm our common humanity, and inspire collective action toward a more just and equitable world. By focusing our attention on #HowWeHeal from the effects of racism, I hope you will join us in this national conversation to explore connections between us.
For The BUILD Health Challenge (BUILD) and communities across the country, the fight to advance equity is fundamental to our shared vision that everyone should have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. The reality however is that racism plays a direct and outsized role in the health outcomes of Americans. As David R. Williams, a social scientist focused on social influences on health, explains in this TED talk, factors like implicit bias, residential segregation, and negative stereotypes not only create and sustain inequality, they result in worse health outcomes for people of color.
Since our launch in 2015, BUILD has pursued the bold goal of improving health for all through cross-sector, upstream, and community-driven approaches. While these ideals have always guided our work, the role of health equity, and our understanding of it, has been a winding journey. While we have grown over the years in our shared understanding and practice of advancing equity, we know all too well that we can and must do better. In recognition of how our equity stance has evolved over time and where we see opportunity for growth, check out “Moving to Center: BUILD’s Health Equity Journey.”
We spent much of the last year focused on how best BUILD could help communities advance health equity, within the context of our current social, cultural, and economic context. This conversation led us to embrace changes to our strategy, and even our identity as a program, to support community partners more effectively. With the help of BUILD communities, funding collaborative members, partners, and peers, we are taking the lessons learned and moving forward into 2022 with a much more explicit objective to advance racial justice. We are currently in the process of operationalizing this approach by co-designing a new programmatic framework with community members. And while this has been an internal conversation with stakeholders for the most part, we wanted to share what we heard in the hopes that it can be of use to others. (Check out BUILD’s “Listening Tour Report: Listening, Leaning, and Leading Together.” )
We hope you will join us in committing to practice the ideals and values of the National Day of Racial Healing – today, and every day. And not stop there but continue to do the equally hard work of figuring out how to apply and operationalize the insights and learnings you come to identify with. This means working together to ensure that the pursuit of equity and racial healing are fundamental elements of you and your team’s policies, processes, and organizational structure. We are hopeful that this process of working together to be an active part of the solution year-round, will contribute to the advancement of equity and racial healing. After all, the only way we can make progress is if we do this together and in service to one another.