equity & antiracism

A core value of this work is a commitment to advancing health equity. Racist systems and policies have led to conditions in which Black, Latinx/e, and Indigenous individuals experience an undue burden of stress. Such conditions may be exacerbated by intersecting systems of class, gender, sexuality, or ability. The CAL STAR Network recognizes the strength of marginalized communities and the necessity for historical, anti-racist, and equity-based approaches in work aimed at enhancing resilience, promoting community well-being, and mitigating the negative effects of toxic stress on human health and opportunity.


The History of Racism in Research

We recognize the role structural racism has played historically and continues to play in contributing to persistent inequities in our nation’s systems. Examining this historical context is important because it provides us with an analytical tool to examine and understand the root causes of current health inequities.

The field of public health and research can be traced to a racist history of medical experimentation on Black people and fabrication of “objective” scientific standards that have been weaponized to reinforce racial hierarchies through arbitrary biological differences. For example, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, in which Black people were intentionally withheld treatment for syphilis as part of a government-sanctioned study from 1932 to 1972, reflects the failure of institutions to adequately support the healthcare needs of Black people. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is part of a larger pattern of experimental abuse that explains the mistrust of the health system that exists among many communities of color today.

The medical profession itself is wrapped in a complex history of racism that several medical associations have acknowledged and apologized for. Likewise, the CAL STAR Network is committed to addressing all of the ways in which inequities show up within the field of ACEs and toxic stress.

Basic Definitions

Communicating about equity and anti-racism also involves exposing the history of racism and other inequities that emerge while we engage in our work. Strong knowledge of relevant terms and concepts will provide us with the analytical tools to understand and explicitly call out these inequities.

Active process of identifying and challenging racism, by changing systems, organizational structures, policies and practices, and attitudes, to redistribute power in an equitable manner.

The effort to provide different levels of support based on an individual’s or group’s needs to achieve fairness in outcomes. Working to achieve equity acknowledges unequal starting places and the need to correct the imbalance.

The effort to treat everyone the same or to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities. However, only working to achieve equality ignores historical and structural factors that benefit some social groups and disadvantages other social groups in ways that create differential starting points.

Coined by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, this term describes the ways in which race, class, gender, and other aspects of our identity “intersect” overlap and interact with one another, informing the way in which individuals simultaneously experience oppression and privilege in their daily lives interpersonally and systemically. Intersectionality promotes the idea that aspects of our identity do not work in a silo. Intersectionality, then, provides a basis for understanding how these individual identity markers work with one another.

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