February 2020: CHE ARC Newsletter

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February 2020

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A healthy Louisville where everyone and every community thrives.

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Louisville, KY 40202



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  • February 11 was the official unveiling of Healthy Louisville 2025! Center for Health Equity staff have worked countless hours alongside community to create the five-year community health improvement plan.Healthy Louisville 2025 is an action plan that seeks to address community needs and ensure an equitable, healthier city. Learn more about Healthy Louisville 2025 at healthylouisville2025.com
  • Check out CHE in the February edition of Medical News! CHE explored implicit bias within the healthcare system and how it impacts healthcare professionals and their relationships with patients.
  • Come join us at Culture is the Cure Summit hosted by Bridge Kids International on Saturday, March 21st from 9am to 4pm at Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. This is an action-oriented gathering combining the wisdom from culture, grassroots programs and academia to explore innovative practices for the development of Black you. If you would like more information about Bridge Kids International or Culture is the Cure Summit, please contact them at 502-457-1910 or email at stacy@bridge-kids.org.  


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Considering the Role of Love in Advancing Health Equity

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is [ineffective]. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This month we are considering some of the ways love is an important value in achieving health equity. To build a community free from racism and other harmful forms of power, we must contend with the physical and emotional consequences created. One of the consequences of racism is deep anxiety which impacts how we love and protect each other from harm. When we make more room to love each other, we can create a just and equitable world. Maya Angelou, the phenomenal woman and poet, once said that “love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, and penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” By learning how to love each other outside of the harm caused by inequities, we can reach our potential to build the communities we deserve.

Racism creates community conditions where White residents experience root causes in ways that create advantages Black residents (and other people of color) don't receive the opportunity to experience. These different experiences lead to health inequities. A key characteristic of racism is that it also manufactures fear between and within racial groups by creating myths about Black people and other people of color, that justifies these health inequities. These myths imply that people of color are ‘separate,’ 'a danger,’ or 'other' and creates expectations where people are either expected to assimilate to be considered worthy of care or be isolated. There are many ways our political system and institutions financially and psychologically benefit from this fear, as it creates disconnection between groups and prevents them from seeing all the ways their interests are actually aligned. Redlining, a historical segregation policy, is a great example. The banking industry, in relationship with government, profited from this policy by restricting homeownership and concentrating low-quality rental property. Today, our community remains racially segregated, there is a shortage of affordable housing and access to resources, and many residents experience fear about neighborhoods they have not had the opportunity to experience.

When we only know myths about people created by racism, the dominant narrative about health persists that inequities are because of individual choice rather than the systems-level decisions that shape community conditions. This fractures the ability of our community to experience and give love in transformative ways. In many ways, being afraid and disconnected from each other is our greatest barrier to achieving health equity because it fuels our desires to protect ourselves from perceived threats rather than to build trust and collaboration among communities. Although we could live in a world where we are experiencing joy, meaningful relationship, and abundance, racism not only negatively shapes the experiences of how we are in relationship with one another, but also how we see ourselves and our own sense of worth internally. It presents us with false narratives and ideologies that makes us feel that the conditions we experience within our communities determine whether others believe we’re worthy of care. But, living in an equitable world means we can safely acknowledge that we are enough just as we are, and that we all deserve community conditions where we can thrive. While it is hard to love when we are led by fear, the collective power of transformative love can help us build an equitable, just world.

As we unlearn the fear of others created by myths justifying health inequities, another consequence of inequitable power is the myth of scarcity. Regarding racism, scarcity is the real or perceived lack of availability of resources due to physical shortage, a lack of access because institutions are not ensuring a regular supply, or due to a lack of adequate infrastructure. Racism creates a perception of scarcity that forces us to compete with one another for resources and view one another as a barrier to getting those needs met. On the other hand, building equity requires an important shift where we begin to understand there are enough resources for all of us. Our ability to thrive is directly connected to our ability to collaborate, share resources, and protect one another. To achieve health equity, we will need to learn the skills that move us from competition to developing our ability to provide collective care.

How do we practice love through collective care?

Collective care is an important component of equity work because it is a form of collective empowerment and love. Just as self-care is important for our individual wellness and relationships, collective care is the understanding that creating the conditions where everyone can thrive is the shared responsibility of our community. Through collective care, we share accountability for equity through the impact of our work, the community values we’re willing to accept, and the policies and practices we uphold through our institutions. Collective care requires us to look beyond ourselves in order to address the complex ways inequity is experienced and its impact on our emotional and physical well-being.

For example, humans need core-standard amenities to protect health and wellness. These include affordable living, quality and clean air, access to food, and the ability to rest and enjoy leisure. In order to build a foundation for collective care we must work together to collaborate and advocate for policies and institutional practices that ensure everyone can have these experiences. This also includes supporting community-led processes where individuals can support one another through healing and accountability. Collective care ties us together when we make sure that people have sustained access to quality resources. By considering collective care, we also build a foundation to challenge the myth of scarcity. We are able to understand that, together, we can create the resources we need to ensure every single person is supported in their ability to thrive.

To ensure resources are invested across our community in ways that allow everyone to thrive, we must build communities that foster connection and collaboration. This allows us to demonstrate our commitment toward healing and transformation.There are many systems level inequities we accept as “normal” or that we write off as “behavior and choices” of those who are often most harmed. By rejecting these inequities, we create a community where everyone sees the worth in themselves and of others.And we begin to recognize that many of the problems we witness across our communities are really patterns of neglect that occur when systems-level decisions benefit from inequitable advantages. Creating the community everyone deserves is possible and we’re excited about the possibilities ahead of us as we collaborate with you further to advance health equity!



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