Reckoning with Our Racist Past: An Academic Health Center’s Engagement with History and Health
Keywords:health equity, racial equity, structural racism, health disparities, equity and inclusion, race, racism, health sciences education
Academic health centers (AHC) both contribute to and are influenced by the communities they serve. As part of a central commitment to improving human health, there is a need for AHCs to acknowledge their history related to race and racism, the resulting impact on current health disparities, and the disparate treatment of racial and minoritized communities. As AHC’s care for Black and Brown communities, they have a unique responsibility to redress their respective legacies of bias, discriminatory practices, and experimentation without consent. One way to achieve this is to provide learning opportunities for in-depth engagement with students, faculty, staff, health care providers, and community members in conversations regarding racial equity, which are essential to shaping and impacting change at an individual and institutional level. Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, launched a new initiative, History, and Health; Racial Equity, designed to (a) increase awareness of our institution’s history, impact, identity, and culture, and (b) support meaningful conversations around history, health equity, structural racism, and health sciences education. Urban and metropolitan universities may learn from and replicate this program and encourage such conversations in their communities.
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