Understanding the Intersection of Our Work and Racial Justice
For 10 years, Primary Care Progress (PCP) has strengthened the community at the heart of care through the Student Action Network and the Gregg Stracks Leadership Summit, equipping future healthcare leaders with the tools necessary to develop Relational Leadership skills. Today, our programs provide healthcare professionals and students with the foundational skills to build the agency, leadership, and teamwork that are needed to address the societal inequities devastating our country.
As with the rest of our nation, we continue to grapple with how best to live out our mission in response to the unconscionable acts of racism and violence against Black communities. We are at a loss with where to begin after the brutality against and deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others. Understanding these tragedies, along with the generational trauma Black communities have faced through slavery and mass incarceration, is a lot to unpack. Even more, health and economic inequities that remain stark among Black communities can be found in these deeply-rooted cycles of oppression. Knowing this, we have a responsibility to listen, learn, and understand how to confront them.
Relational Leadership demands that we take the time to generate that awareness, to understand how we both shape and are shaped by our culture, experiences, and social identities. “Critical consciousness”, or conscientização, was a term first coined by Brazilian theorist Paulo Freire. The approach is used to describe the ability to understand or recognize what is in order to change it, and the concept is a fundamental building block for transformative action. PCP’s Identity Toolkit can help healthcare professionals and students begin their critical consciousness journey — to better understand the many aspects of their identities and how they inform their perspectives, biases, and actions.
At PCP, we’re applying a critical consciousness lens to our work and organization. While equity is embedded into our mission and values, our mission does not directly address racial and restorative justice in oppressed communities — but we can cultivate more awareness and identify actionable steps to take both internally and externally. We as an organization are beginning to reflect on how to answer the following questions:
- Although PCP is not a racial justice or social change organization, how can PCP’s Programs relate to these issues? Because topics like race and health are intertwined, we will identify areas in which we can incorporate more explicit learnings about the intersection across our programs.
- How are our program participants connected to social and/or racial justice advocacy outside of our work together? We will begin to identify ways we can better prepare the PCP Leadership Pathway to facilitate conversations about race and to lift up the rich experiences of our program participants during learning sessions.
- What can we do or continue to do internally to ensure that we are creating an equitable and inclusive place to work? We will continue to create space to learn about systemic oppression and its ramifications. We will review our internal processes with a critical lens to identify opportunities to create a better workplace for all individuals.
- What other ways can we hold our organization accountable?
What You Can Do and Understanding Identity
Race and social identity is just one component our Identity Toolkit touches on. In the coming weeks, we will be sharing multiple perspectives from healthcare professionals and students in our Leadership Pathway to understand how they’re processing their evolving personal and professional identities. Failing to engage with the work of understanding ourselves and our communities has grave ramifications. Through this failure, we perpetuate systemic inequities and oppression.
By instilling and maintaining a culture of learning and curiosity, we will do what we can to be better allies, ensuring that Black stories are uplifted and honored. We acknowledge this is a space to create environments where we can listen to learn, in hopes that our future actions support more equitable futures for Black communities. We recognize that although the work related to learning about race can be difficult and uncomfortable, it’s an important lifelong journey we must embark on if we want to do better and be better. This list by Dismantle Collective and this Justice in June resource by Autumn Gupta with Bryanna Wallace are great places to start learning and listening. A collection of educational, organizational, and mental health resources to consider can be found below. And when you’re ready, the tools we created related to listening, fostering psychologically safer spaces, facilitation, and leading from where you stand can also serve you on your critical consciousness journey.
Comment below on ways you think PCP can help advocate for racial justice and equity.
Racial Equity Suggestions for PCP
Center for Talent Innovation: Being Black in Corporate America
Building Movement Project: Solidarity Is
CDC: African American Health
Kaiser Family Foundation: Health and Healthcare for Blacks in the United States
American Bar Association: Implicit Bias and Disparities in Healthcare
The Century Foundation: Racism, Inequality, and Healthcare for African Americans
Witt/Kieffer: Closing the Gap in Healthcare Leadership Diversity: A Witt/Kieffer Study
National LGBT Health Education Center: Understanding and Addressing the Social Determinants of Health for Black LGBTQ People: A Way Forward for Health Centers
Dear Allies, You will be tired but you must persist.
Onsite Workshops: Free emotional support groups are being offered to anyone experiencing racial trauma. To join, fill out this form. A specific group for Black mental health professionals can be found here.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Black/African American Mental Health
Black Mental Health Alliance: (410) 338-2642
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN): A healing justice organization committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color (QTPoC)