Racism is a fundamental cause of health inequities and has been declared a public health crisis by over 200 cities and counties, 18 states, and numerous health and healthcare organizations across the country. American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin noted that, “These declarations are an important first step in the movement to advance racial equity and justice and must be followed by allocation of resources and strategic action.”
The UC Berkeley School of Public Health has a moral, ethical, and professional obligation to address racism as a root cause of health and overall well-being. Our actions should reflect what our research tells us. Becoming an antiracist institution is an important part of that duty to ourselves (students, staff, and faculty), to the University, the state of California, and the nation.
In 2020, Berkeley Public Health launched the Anti-Racist Community for Justice and Social Transformative Change (ARC 4 JSTC) initiative in order to systematically assess our institutional strengths and identify areas for growth as we transform our culture and practices toward becoming more anti-racist. This includes assessing the current state of our curriculum and pedagogy, mentoring, student experience, staff and workforce experience, our business processes, and engagement with our local and greater community. We dedicated ourselves to becoming an anti-racist institution by examining our institutional policies, culture, and norms and becoming champions of racial equity practice by creating and implementing short, moderate, and long term goals, and metrics focused on building internal capacity in an effort to create something that will be self-sustaining. We’ve phased the work to prioritize activities that: 1) build foundational capacity, 2) can be implemented quickly and with current resources, 3) will have high visibility, and 4) will have recognizable impact.
The initiative has three goals and five projects.