Module 6: Racial Equity & Social Justice
Racial equity is a process of eliminating racial disparities and improving outcomes for everyone. It is the intentional and continual practice of changing policies, practices, systems and structures by prioritizing measurable change in the lives of people of color. Racial equity involves focusing on and understanding how racial distinctions, historic and present day, and the resulting system of disparities in access to resources and supports, can flourish and be maintained as part of a larger system of racial advantage and disadvantage. Race is not a biological reality, but rather a social construct. And, although it is a social construct, the impacts of racism and discrimination are real and have been proven to cause biological and health harms. Since many people are uncomfortable discussing race, it is often considered one of many factors in health inequity. Racial equity would mean attaining health equity without regards to race. Social justice is often defined as the equitable sharing of burdens and rewards in society.
Cultural competence and cultural humility within mental health and substance use treatment service systems involves providing culturally and linguistically responsive services to clients that have the potential to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. Conversely, cultural insensitivity is when organizations either do not speak the client’s language or are unaware of how cultural differences can impact health care.
Culturally competent organizations are filled with culturally competent employees who put policies and procedures in place that reflect their values and the values of their clients. Cultural competence is not an end state, it involves constantly acquiring knowledge, skills and competencies. Awareness or tolerance of other cultures is not the same as cultural competence. Cultural awareness is sensitivity and understanding toward individuals from different ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds. Cultural competence goes beyond cultural awareness and sensitivity and involves comprehensively understanding and respecting the scope of a person’s cultural values, beliefs and practices about matters such as health and health care, family and spirituality.
Cultural humility is an ongoing practice defined as a lifelong process of self-reflection and self-critique where the individual learns about another’s culture, beginning with an examination of their own beliefs and cultural identities. Cultural competence is an evolving, dynamic process that takes time and occurs along a continuum ranging from attaining cultural proficiency to being culturally destructive.
For mental health and substance use recovery, this continuum occurs across dimensions such as service delivery, staff/team development, organizational environment and community relations. Ongoing assessments of strengths and areas for growth are necessary to maintain and enhance cultural competence. Exploring cultural competence and cultural humility is imperative to advance racial equity and social justice.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of racial equity has been highlighted in at least two ways. First, Black and Latinx communities have higher COVID-19 mortality rates than White communities. Second, despite an ongoing pandemic, the murder of George Floyd called attention to the issues of racial violence in the U.S. and resulted in mass protests and calls for social action.
- The reader will be able to define racial equity and social justice.
- The reader will acquire additional resources about racial equity and social justice for their toolbox.
- The reader will be able to apply the skills and tools acquired in this module to a case vignette.
Step 1: Let’s Get Started
This step briefly introduces racial equity and social justice and provides specific objectives that will move you closer to your goals.
Step 2: Time to Engage
The information in this step is accessible and provides a general introduction to racial equity and social justice. You can listen to a podcast on your morning walk, download a resource to help your client or get a short audio summary of an article that caught your eye before fully engaging with the reading.
Videos and Webinars
- During Anneliese Singh, Ph.D.’s, presidency for The Society of Counseling Psychology, American Psychological Association Division 17, her presidential initiative was to Build a Counseling Psychology of Liberation.
Some of the available webinars include:
- Watch What We Do Not What We Say: White Allies Centering Liberation to Dismantle White Supremacy (61 min)
- Liberation through Reclaiming Our Immigrant Stories and Putting Privilege to Action (61 min)
- Witches, Radicals and Unfit Women: Decolonizing Histories and Reclaiming Voices (63 min)
- Building a Counseling Psychology of Liberation: Exploring Liberation Principles in Our Own Lives (63 min)
- Parents and children sit together and chat candidly in PBS KIDS Talk About Race & Racism, (28 min), hosted by inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman.
- The California Institute for Behavioral Health Solutions produced a five-week webinar series, Eliminating Inequities in Behavioral Health Care, which aims to increase participants’ knowledge about the interplay between structural racism, behavioral health institutional racism, implicit bias and behavioral health disparities.
The topics in this webinar series include:
- Introduction to a Framework for Confronting Racism in Behavioral Health (82 min)
- Systemic Racism and Structural Racialization: Examining the Impact on Behavioral Health Disparities (79 min)
- Implicit Bias: Recognizing Its Harmful Impact and Taking Actions to Counter Unconscious Bias (79 min)
- The Role and Responsibilities of Health and Behavioral Health Leaders in Addressing Systemic Racism to Eliminate Behavioral Health Disparities (99 min)
- Talking About Race and Racism with Clients: Challenges, Benefits and Strategies for Fostering Meaningful Dialogue (82 min)
- In his discussion, We Need to Talk About an Injustice (23:26 min), human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson talks about America’s justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: A third of the country’s Black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives.
- In a five-minute video, Talking to Children after Racial Incidents, Howard Stevenson, Ph.D., shares his expertise about the ways educators and families can support children when they experience a racial incident in order to reduce any negative effects on health and wellbeing.
Some of the questions answered include:
- Why is this a conversation parents and guardians need to have?
- Why talk about social justice?
- Why talk about race?
- Remember “Affection, Correction and Protection” – a three step plan for conversations about race and social justice.
- Reason it out.
- How can you partner with other parents?
- Avoid either/ or.
- In the podcast Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence, the therapist and trauma specialist, Resmaa Menakem, discusses his book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.
- If you are interested in further engagement in honest and fearless conversations about race, Code Switch from NPR is your next stop. The co-hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby will keep you up-to-date with all news regarding social justice and racial equity.
Here are some of the most recent episodes available:
- Words of Advice (56 min)
- Thank You, Next (28:36 min)
- The White Elephants in The Room (37:33 min)
- Claim Us If You’re Famous (36:34 min)
- A Treaty Right for Cherokee Representation (27:25 min)
- Is It Time to Say R.I.P.? To ‘POC’? (38:18 min)
- The Kids Are All Right (34:34 min)
- Balls and Strikes (33:30 min)
- Bonus Episode: Katrina, 15 Years Later (29:29 min)
- One Korean American’s Reckoning (26:12 min)
- The Undocumented Americans (23:40 min)
On Psychology Today, the collection of work, Healing Through Social Justice aims to increase readers’ knowledge and understanding of wellness through liberatory frameworks.
The covered topics include:
- Radically Reimagining Community Safety: Transforming Policing and Investing in Collective Wellness. Bryana H. French, Helen A. Neville, Grace A. Chen, Della V. Mosley, Jioni A. Lewis, Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas and Hector Y. Adames
- Acknowledge past harm caused by policing Black, Indigenous and people of color communities.
- Shift funding to social services and institutions that promote wellness.
- Create opportunities to reimagine community-based safety.
- Engage mental health and substance use recovery professionals in safety.
- #SayHerName: Radical Healing for Black Women and Gender Expansive Folx. Jioni A. Lewis, Helen A. Neville, Della V. Mosley, Bryana H. French, Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, Hector Y. Adames, Grace A. Chen
- Name and identify sources of stress and trauma.
- Engage in mind-body healing.
- Lean on support networks.
- Envision possibilities for wellness, freedom and dignity After COVID-19.
- Stand for social justice and take action.
- Envisioning Collective Thriving During Ramadan: Reflections on Healing for Arab, Middle Eastern and North African people. By Amir H. Maghsoodi, Helen A. Neville, Hector Y. Adames, Grace A. Chen, Jioni A. Lewis, Bryana H. French, Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas and Della V. Mosley, The Psychology of Radical Healing Collective
- Strengthen connection to cultural and ethnic practices and traditions.
- Deepen one’s understanding of Arab/Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) peoples’ histories and identities.
- Look inward and confront internalized racism and Islamophobia.
- Look outward and nurture relationships with co-liberators from the global majority.
- Embrace radical hope.
- Radical Healing in Times of Fear and Uncertainty: It’s Natural to Feel Scared and Isolated During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
- Educate yourself and share information about the impact of COVID-19.
- Nurture your spirituality and practice self-compassion.
- Stay connected and increase emotional intimacy.
- Cultivate cultural understanding and curiosity.
- Take action to address racism and inequities related to COVID-19 and to promote health for all.
- Radical Self-care in the Face of Mounting Racial Stress: Cultivating Hope Through Acts of Affirmation. Grace A. Chen, Helen A. Neville, Jioni A. Lewis, Hector Y. Adames, Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, Della V. Mosley and Bryana H. French, The Psychology of Radical Healing Collective
- Make space for your own healing.
- Cultivate joy.
- Find a place where you feel a sense of belonging.
- Engage in small acts of empowerment.
- Get involved in local community-based activism and advocacy.
- Radical Existence in Times of Atrocities: Strategies to Reclaim, Affirm and Embrace Our Humanity. Hector Y. Adames, Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, Helen A. Neville, Della V. Mosley, Grace A. Chen, Jioni A. Lewis and Bryana H. French, The Psychology of Radical Healing Collective
- Reclaim the voices of our ancestors.
- Affirm our cultural roots.
- Embrace liberatory love for each other and our communities.
- LGBTQ+ People of Color Healing from Hatred: How Gaining Critical Consciousness Heals Us All. Della V. Mosley, Grace A. Chen, Jioni A. Lewis, Helen A. Neville, Bryana H. French, Hector Y. Adames and Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, The Psychology of Radical Healing Collective.
- Recognize and critically question the social and political realities that impact our wellness and uncover the root causes of oppression when we see it.
- Use this critical awareness to take action against oppression.
- The Psychology of Radical Healing: What Can Psychology Tell Us About Healing from Racial and Ethnic Trauma? Helen A. Neville, Hector Y. Adames, Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, Grace A. Chen, Bryana H. French, Jioni A. Lewis and Della V. Mosley, The Psychology of Radical Healing Collective
- Develop pride in your racial/ethnic/Indigenous group.
- Share your story.
- Resist and take action.
- Maintain radical hope.
- Practice self-care.
- Race Forward, a publication by the Annie E. Casey Foundation provides a one-page report that details the Principles for Racially Equitable Policy Platforms.
These principles include:
- Fix systems, not people.
- Create racially equitable solutions that benefit all.
- Ensure that solutions are grounded in and emerge from the experience of communities of color, by engaging leaders of color who are accountable to those communities.
- Commit to collecting race/ethnicity data and use it to track and target the greatest needs.
- Set measurable, results-based equity goals with specific attention to racial impacts.
- In addition to these principles the readers also have access to the Racial Equity Impact Assessment By the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
In this report, you’ll learn:
- An overview of racial equity impact assessments.
- Why these examinations are important.
- When to conduct one of these examinations.
- Sample questions to ask to help identify racial inequities.
- The Anti-Defamation League provides some salient steps to further Engage Young People in Conversations about Race and Racism.
The steps include:
- Set up a safe and respectful classroom environment.
- Consider the racial composition of your classroom.
- Define terms.
- Connect the past to the present.
- Understand perspective.
- Think critically about the media.
- Talk about structural racism and white privilege.
- Encourage empathy.
- Inspire hope and activism.
- The American Psychological Association aggregated multiple resources Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Youth Mental Health contains the following information:
- Promoting Positive Mental Health Among Racial/Ethnic Minority Children: Ensuring and Enhancing Services, Programs and Resources
- Disparities in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Mental Health Services in the U.S. – A William T. Grant Foundation Report
- Marbles Kids Museum provides an array of resources centered around racial equity to support and foster conversations between parents, educators and children pre- and post-pandemic, including:
- Becoming Upended: Teaching and Learning about Race and Racism with Young Children and Their Families
Step 3: Creating a Stronger Foundation
This list of materials and resources provides a more detailed description of how to apply the tools introduced in Step 2. This step requires you to engage in deeper analysis of the topic through documentaries, research articles, trainings and books. Some of the tools, like research articles and books, may have a cost attached. We recommend that your organization provide them and you share them with other team members. Tools like trainings may require you to engage for longer periods of time than the initial resources.
Take five minutes to listen to the transcription of the talk with Filmmaker Ava DuVernay as she talks about how her Documentary ’13TH’ Argues Mass Incarceration Is An Extension Of Slavery. If you are interested in the documentary, you can watch it free-of-charge on YouTube Documentary/History: 13th.
For a more comprehensive look at racism, anti-racism and racial-trauma review the following articles:
- Critical Consciousness of Anti-Black Racism: A Practical Model to Prevent and Resist Racial Trauma
- Mosley, D. V., Hargons, C. N., Meiller, C., Angyal, B., Wheeler, P., Davis, C., & Stevens-Watkins, D. (2020). Critical consciousness of anti-Black racism: A practical model to prevent and resist racial trauma. Journal of counseling psychology, 10.1037/cou0000430. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/cou0000430
- Carrying the Burden: Counselors of Color’s Experiences of Microaggressions in Counseling
- Branco, S. F., & Bayne, H. B. (2020). Carrying the burden: Counselors of color’s experiences of microaggressions in counseling. Journal of Counseling & Development, 98(3), 272–282. https://doi-org.proxy-remote.galib.uga.edu/10.1002/jcad.12322
- Healing Ethno-racial Trauma in Latinx Immigrant Communities: Cultivating Hope, Resistance, and Action
- Chavez-Dueñas, N. Y., Adames, H. Y., Perez-Chavez, J. G., & Salas, S. P. (2019). Healing ethno-racial trauma in Latinx immigrant communities: Cultivating hope, resistance, and action. American Psychologist, 74(1), 49-62. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/amp0000289
- Critical Race Theory, Race Equity and Public Health: Toward Antiracism Praxis
- Ford, C. L., & Airhihenbuwa, C. O. (2010). Critical Race Theory, race equity, and public health: toward antiracism praxis. American journal of public health, 100 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S30–S35. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2009.171058
- Resmaa Menakem has also developed a free training, Racialized Trauma Course through the Cultural Somatics Training and Institute. Some of the topics covered through this training include:
- Black body trauma
- White body trauma
- Police body trauma
- Communal body trauma
- The American Public Health Association takes an in-depth look at racism as a driving force of the social determinants of health and equity in the United States through their Advancing Racial Equity Discussion Guide The series is also accompanied by a discussion guide that will allow organizations to work together or do this work individually.
Here are the topics covered through this series:
- Racism: The ultimate underlying condition.
- A path to reproductive justice: Research, practice and policies.
- Reborn not reformed: Re-imagining policing for the public’s health.
- Ibram X. Kendi, Ph.D, has been recognized as a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University. Some of his most recommended books that will allow you to engage in the roots of health disparities follow. If you’d like a synopsis of his book, How to Be an Antiracist, then check out the podcast, Brené Brown with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist.Here are some books by Dr. Kendi:
- How to Be an Antiracist
- Antiracist Baby
- Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You
- The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has shared An Activity Book for African American Families: Helping Children Cope with Crisis.The discussed sections include:
- Inspire hope in your child.
- Be still and listen to your child.
- Support, comfort and love your child.
- Give your child information that is age-appropriate.
- Help your child feel safe.
- Make a plan with your child for emergencies.
- Help your child feel good about themselves.
- Pay attention to what your child watches on TV.
- Share your faith with your child.
- Just for parents.
Step 4: Your Turn
This step encourages you to apply what you have learned through a case vignette. We recommend that you explore the gaps present within the vignette and implement any new skills acquired through this module. Consult with others on your team to explore the multiple ways to address the issues, especially as you take your role within your organization and your experience, skills and worldview into account.
We provide reflection questions from the following perspectives: individual learning and beliefs, organizational learning and systemic. You can use the questions to have discussions with others and think through all the facets that are relevant to your work.
Nothing in her experience prepared Jodi for 2020. As an administrator of a large mental health and substance use recovery organization located in an area with individuals and families of color, Jodi had been buffeted by a year unlike any other. The pandemic had disproportionately sickened and killed people of color. Protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police had given voice to long simmering anger over racial inequity. Politically, the local Black community had been accused of cheating in the elections by the losing side. Every event seemed to exacerbate issues in the community and had health implications for members of the community.
In addition, staff at the organization questioned unequal pay, recruitment practices and the lack of racial diversity in the leadership. At first, Jodi took it personally and considered finding another job. Then, she connected the societal forces that were highlighting inequity everywhere. She could choose to leave or use her position to enact systemic change. Instead of leaving, she hired a diversity consultant and formed a community advisory board to help revise and inform the practices of the organization.
Change would not come easily or quickly. There were many concepts and terms that were confusing and difficult to understand and address such as White supremacy, radical healing and finding hope. Jodi found an entirely new to her set of literature, scholarship and group of experts from which to draw as she learned, and her openness with the community about her learning strengthened the standing of the organization in the community. There was an uncertain future ahead, but Jodi was committed to being the best ally she could be.
- Leadership during one crisis is difficult, and leadership through multiple concurrent crises is exponentially harder. What are your beliefs and actions about leadership? (individual learning and beliefs)
- What are some ways your organization might learn about the community it serves? Have you thought about a community advisory board? (organizational learning and change)
- What are some ways your organization can learn about leadership in social justice that is outside the norm or everyone’s comfort zone? (systemic change)