THE TOOLKIT: Addressing Racism, Silence, and Privilege in Higher Education and Healthcare

(Every once in a while, I love to have someone else take over the blog for the week and elaborate on their own personal contributions to healthcare and minority health in general. This week, I asked my friend Derrick Young to be “The Neighborhood Bioethicist” and talk about his passion project. Check out his post and bio below. Hope you enjoy! -Nia)

In America, people who are either awfully silent or shockingly expressive surround us all. Do you remember sitting in class, and there is always that one person who talks most but says the least productive things? Then, we can only wish they would use that vocal talent to address the critical issues affecting humankind. And, of course, we know the silent ones. Most of us are silent in some capacity. But many of the problems we face could change if people just spoke up. This “silence” problem plagues American academic and healthcare institutions — some of the most powerful and influential entities on the globe. As we recently saw in Charlottesville, universities are a place that ignite national movements, both negative and positive.

Racism is embedded in U.S. history, policy, healthcare, education, and many other systems and aspects of American culture. African Americans and other people of color are subject to lesser privileges, opportunities, and freedoms than White Americans. Institutionalized racism has a significant impact on individual health and healthcare. Schools who train professionals must teach strategies that acknowledge racism as a system of oppression and a determinant of health, not violence and bigotry, solely. Blacks lack access to quality education, adequate housing, gainful employment, suitable medical facilities, and comfortable living environments. African Americans have higher death rates than whites for many of the country’s leading causes of death: cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and homicide. Vernellia Randall, a former professor at the University of Dayton School of Law, explains racism as “the ability to give or withhold social benefits, facilities, services, opportunities, etc., from someone who is entitled to them, and is denied on the basis of race, color or national origin.”

So, what can our academic and healthcare institutions do? We can stop being silent and actively address systemic racism.

 

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The Toolkit (“The Kit”) addresses silence and the privileges that allow certain people to be silent. We must change the way we teach racism and oppression because the majority of current methods used are not comprehensive and progressive enough. The Kit supplies institutions with a framework for addressing systemic racism in academia and healthcare. It presents a model for training administration/faculty and redeveloping curriculums to ensure student success and institutional climate change. The resources within The Kit addresses curriculum development, faculty and student recruitment, social interventions, and much more. There are some, although very few, institutions who have adopted great strategies to address racism, while also acting to remove it from within their walls and beyond. It is time we put our great minds together and make the change.

Currently, The Kit houses resources for health professional and medical schools. The Law & Government and Teaching & Education sections are still developing. The Kit is a functional instrument. We want people to contribute articles, books, videos, and other resources they feel will be beneficial to the mission. Combat Racism: The Toolkit is a community effort; therefore, everyone’s input is valuable and wanted. Let’s dismantle racism by addressing and ending the silence that perpetuates the system!

 

Check out The Kit at WWW.COMBATRACISM.COM

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND DEVELOPER

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Derrick Young Jr. is a millennial who is a champion for social justice, health equity, and education. Derrick has demonstrated his commitment to reaching health equity by centering his research around the laws and policies that influence social determinants of health. He has completed work for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. National Minority AIDS Council, the American Legacy Foundation (Truth Initiative), the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research, and Harvard University Center for AIDS Research. Derrick earned his MPH from Tufts University School of Medicine and his BA from Grambling State University. He is currently continuing his education as a Juris Doctor candidate at Boston University School of Law. He can be contacted at derrickyjr@gmail.com.

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