By Patti R. Rose, MPH, Ed.D
Racial equity involves a number of concerns that must be addressed. For example, in terms of health, because racial equity has not been advanced effectively, there is mistrust of the medical establishment by Black people. This is primarily due to mistreatment of Black people throughout history, coupled by a shortage of Black physicians that impose barriers in terms of seeking medical care. The United States has a long history of lack of access to care for non-White people. The history of unequal access and quality of care created and continues to foster, an environment of higher morbidity and mortality rates among the various emerging majority groups. This lack of, or insufficient access to, healthcare in the United States has led to poorer health, health inequality and a widening heath status gap between the emerging majority and current majority populations. These trends have raised alarms about the impact of a skewed distribution of societal resources on social and physical well-being, Public health officials have called attention to this problem and pledged to reduce it. This would be a significant step towards advancing racial equity in health care.
Political EquityThe term emerging majority is used here in recognition of the inevitable change taking place in U.S. society based on the prediction that by the year 2050, in certain geographic areas in the United States, and ultimately the nation as a whole, the majority populations will be Hispanic, Black people and other minorities (combined), while white people will be the minority group. This may lead to a natural advancement of racial equity because as the number of emerging majorities continue to grow, increased political power will ensue, leading to more input into the allocation of federal and financial resources. This type of progress, in terms of the expansion of political power and resources, are the kinds of advances that are needed to ensure true racial equity. Lip service about concern for emerging majorities and reducing racism is insufficient to cause real change. Comprehensive strategies are needed to ensure that disparities are reduced, but also to improve equity in all aspects of societal needs including, education, housing, quality food, criminal justice, etc. There must be improved communication on every level between patients/customers and those who are being served, no matter their race as demographic shifts, racially and ethnically, continue to occur quickly and dramatically, especially with the vast influx of immigrants per the current federal administration. This society must prepare for and understand that there is and will be a significantly diverse population, more so now than ever before in U.S. history. Therefore, in order for the nation to continue to succeed as a whole, complex, sensitive and challenging issues, related to racial disparities, and gaps in the provision of services (e.g. heath care, education) must be addressed to ensure advancement of racial equity.
This will require a great deal of restructuring and explicit knowledge of historical missteps in law, policy, and practice that have given way to existing discriminatory practices. An additional important step will be incorporating technology, communication styles and other practices of engagement rooted in various cultures to bridge gaps and create stronger ties between emerging majorities and the current majority group. This will be another significant step towards racial equity because there is a potential for a shift from viewing emerging majorities as being culturally deprived rather than culturally rich, in terms of what they positively provide to the U.S. through their insights, labor, intelligence, perspectives and experiences. Acknowledgment of the valuable contributions of diverse members of society, rather than primarily focusing on the white majority group as the preeminent contributors will go a long way towards racial equity.
Solutions to Advancing Racial Equity
Racial disparities exist despite considerable progress. Many factors contribute to these disparities in complex ways, but with comprehensive strategies that include implementation, efficiency and efficacy across the board, further progress can be made. Diversity must be embraced. Demographic shifts must be valued and people across all racial categories must be cared for, in all walks of life. The primary reason for the disparities between racial groups in the U.S. is because the majority group is cared for, while other emerging majorities are not, to the same degree. When other groups receive equivalent care, with the same level of commitment and resources, racial equity will be the outcome. The focus should no longer be to research, list and highlight the problems that lead to racial inequity but to discuss and implement solutions to advance racial equity.
About the author
Patti R. Rose, MPH, Ed.D. - President and Founder, Rose Consulting
Dr. Patti Rose acquired her Master's Degree (MPH) in Health Services Administration from the Yale University School of Public Health followed by her Doctorate (Ed.D.) in Health Education from Columbia University, Teachers College. She is the President and Founder of Rose Consulting through which she offers speaking engagements, workshops and consultation in the United States and abroad. She is author of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: Context, Controversies, and Solutions, Second Edition, Cultural Competency for Health Administration and Public Health and Cultural Competency for the Health Professional.