Webinar to examine systemic racism, health equity

What can, and should, faculty members, staff, students and the community be doing in response to institutional racism and its role in shaping health equity?

A webinar organized by the Cornell Center for Health Equity (CCHEq) will examine this question Thursday, July 23, at 1 p.m. The webinar is free and the public is invited; registration is required.

The webinar will also explore how systemic racism structures health outcomes and what the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed about the relationship between racism and health equity.

The panelists will be: Whitney Pirtle, assistant professor at University of California, Merced; Rachel Hardeman, associate professor at the University of Minnesota; and Courtney Cogburn, associate professor at the Columbia School of Social Work.

Jamila Michener, associate professor of government in the College of Arts and Sciences and co-director of CCHEq, will serve as moderator.

“To help us think through these difficult questions, the webinar includes three of the country's leading social scientists around topics of health and race. Each of these scholars has been a vital part of discussions and engagement in the wake of the crises we have recently experienced in the United States – a global health crisis and massive uprisings against racism and police violence,” Michener said.

Hardeman applies the tools of population health science and health services research to elucidate racism as a critical and complex determinant of health inequity. She was recently appointed to the Minnesota Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the CDC Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA) Bias work group where she is working to develop a measure of structural racism to be included when reviewing maternal deaths. She is co-author of "Stolen Breaths" in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Cogburn employs a transdisciplinary approach to examining the role of racism in the production of racial inequalities in health. She is the lead creator of 1000 Cut Journey, an immersive virtual reality racism experience that was developed in collaboration with the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University and which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2018. She is co-author of "Psychotic Experiences in the Context of Police Victimization: Data from the Survey of Police-Public Encounters."

Pirtle’s research focuses on racism, identity and health equity, with an emphasis on how social structures, like racial hierarchies, impact individuals lived experiences and well-being. She is the author of the influential "Racial Capitalism: A Fundamental Cause of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Inequities in the United States."

“This webinar is an effort to reach those who do not know about the ways Black communities ‘bear the physical burdens of centuries of injustice,’ as Rachel Hardeman wrote in ‘Stolen Breaths,’” Michener said. “Our goal for this event is to inform them. Even further, we hope to reach those who know, but choose not to act, and to engage them.”

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