Healing Through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice

blue and red conversation bubbles"It takes more than talk to move the needle to become a healthier nation — we need action through policy change."
--APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD

Across the country, there is growing acknowledgment of the impact of racism on the health of individuals and communities. Through resolutions, executive orders and other mechanisms, local leaders are declaring racism a public health crisis and committing to addressing systemic health and racial inequities. Local leaders are exploring policies and practices to move from commitment to action and how to best use policy to effect meaningful change toward health, racial equity and justice.

Download the initiative’s summary of policies and practices (PDF).

Launched in October 2021, Healing Through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice is an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation, APHA, and the National Collaborative for Health Equity. In its first phase, the initiative’s partners and advisory committee identified a suite of racial equity policies and practices that can be implemented at the local level to promote racial healing and address social inequities.

Guiding Framework

The Truth, Racial Healing, & Transformation framework is a comprehensive, national, and community-based process to plan for and bring about transformational and sustainable change, and to address the historic and contemporary effects of racism. TRHT recognizes that advancing racial equity and justice requires repairing past harms, addressing the underlying beliefs that fuel racism, and facilitating healing within and across communities. Healing Through Policy uses the TRHT framework in its curated suite of policies and practices that advance health and racial equity through the foundational components of Narrative Change, Racial Healing and Relationship Building, Separation, Law and Economy.

Policy and Practice Options

NARRATIVE CHANGE
Transforming How We Communicate About our Past, Present and Future, Including Direct Conversations in Multiracial, Multiethnic Tables in Communities

  • Executive orders, resolutions, ordinances and declarations to advance racial equity
  • Mapping, data collection, and analysis efforts to understand and address inequities and measure progress
  • Racial impact assessments, frameworks, and other systems to achieve accountability
  • Redesigning public spaces to equitably honor our shared history
  • Creating curricula that are respectful, inclusive, and honor the diverse communities in children’s schools

RACIAL HEALING AND RELATIONSHIP BUILDING
Healing from the Wounds of the Past, Building Mutually Respectful Relationships Across Racial and Ethnic Lines, and Building Trusting Intergenerational and Diverse Community Relationships

  • Resolutions, dialogue models, racial healing circles, and restorative justice practices aimed at understanding historical harms and repairing relationships
  • Training and capacity-building for practitioners, educators, and service providers around overcoming bias and healing
  • Local truth commissions that promote racial healing
  • Acknowledgement, public apologies, and commitments to redress by localities for their role in slavery and/or advancing systemic racism

SEPARATION
The Division of Groups Based on a Particular Characteristic, Including Races and/or Socioeconomic Status, Fostered by Historic and Present-Day Land Use and Development Decisions That Perpetuate Racial Inequities

  • Zoning innovation for health and equity
  • Displacement and eviction protections to preserve the right to housing
  • Equitable transportation and planning to improve access to opportunity
  • School integration to promote social justice and social mobility

LAW
The Government-Sponsored Legal Authorization and Enforcement of Public and Private Systems and Policies to Maintain Hierarchy, Denying the Full Humanity of People of Color

  • Endorsement and implementation of 21st Century Policing recommendations and other comprehensive police reforms
  • Diversion of police funding to support alternatives to policing and prevention programs, such as investments in behavioral and mental health services
  • Reclassification of violations, decriminalization, and bail, probation, and fees reform to address racial and socioeconomic biases
  • Immigrant-friendly policies and practices to promote equitable opportunity

ECONOMY
The Implementation and Proliferation of Opportunity Systems That Exploit and Oppress People of Color for the Financial Gain of Others

  • Income and asset strategies to promote economic mobility of individuals and families of color
  • Equitable investment and development that prioritizes community voice and assets
  • Compensatory redress to rectify historical injustices that economically disadvantage communities of color

Policy and Practice Briefs

The following briefs provide additional context, evidence, and examples of how localities are implementing the policies and practices described in the Healing Through Policy suite:

Implementation

The policy and practice suite is being widely disseminated to cities across the United States. In coming years, Healing Through Policy partners plan to provide technical assistance to local governments and community leaders undertaking efforts to advance policies and practices in the suite.

Ultimately, this effort will offer local leaders a pragmatic and achievable, yet aspirational and innovative, set of policies and practices that can advance local health and racial equity priorities and needs.

Partners

logo, de Beaumont Foundation Bold Solutions for Healthier Communitieslogo, National Collaborative for Health Equity