NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – In recognition of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and 402 years of racism in the country, RWJBarnabas Health and the Rutgers School of Public Health join others around the nation to declare that racism is a public health crisis and that Black Lives Matter.
In an effort to ensure a more equitable and just world for Black and brown people, the two organizations developed a call to action in the form of a pledge, which has been adopted by groups that include academia, government, business, and community‐based organizations.
Racism hurts the health of communities by depriving people of the opportunity to attain their highest level of health. It is the fundamental cause of health disparities that are inextricably tied with poverty, inadequate housing, under-resourced and thus, underperforming schools, police brutality, mass incarceration, food deserts, food swamps, unemployment or underemployment, wage disparity, stress, poor access to health care, and violence, all of which are substantial barriers to health equity, according to Perry N. Halkitis, dean of the Rutgers School of Public Health.
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“In order to achieve health equity, eliminate health care disparities, and create more vital communities, we must identify and address racial injustices,” Halkitis said. “We must fearlessly commit to listening, confronting policies, systems, and structures that perpetuate and uphold racism, and holding conversations that lead to actionable change.”
The pledge outlines collaborative steps that organizations must take in order to move towards an anti racists and more equitable world.
“As anchor institutions within our communities, we must lead the way in addressing racial and social inequities that impact the health and well-being of our diverse communities,” said DeAnna Minus-Vincent, Senior Vice President, Chief Social Integration & Health Equity Strategist for RWJBarnabas Health.
The pledge, which was initially signed by Halkitis, Minus-Vincent and Ernani Sadural, MD, Director of Global Health at RWJBarnabas Health, will also be signed by local organizations that have also expressed a unified commitment to addressing equity and disparities in healthcare, dismantling systemic racism.
Pledge signatories will work to enlist local organizations committed to fighting social injustices including, but not limited to the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Equal Justice U.S.A., New Jersey Citizen Action, and New Jersey Policy Perspective that work to eliminate inappropriate use of force in law enforcement, systemic incarceration of Black males, healthcare disparities, and economic inequalities in the Black community.