Is Colorado ready to talk about the role of racism in health equity? This is one of the questions grantees raised and discussed at the end of the 2015 Health Equity Learning Series (HELS). To better understand the answer, and explore perceptions of racism and its role in preventing health equity in their communities, the 22 Colorado Trust grantees were interviewed by project evaluator Melanie Tran of the University of Colorado Denver.
At the last HELS event of 2015, john a. powell, JD, executive director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at University of California, Berkeley, spoke powerfully about racism as a social determinant of health. Many of the HELS grantees felt it was time for racism to be at the center of conversations around health equity, despite it being a difficult subject from which many people steer away. With what one interviewee called the "privilege of ignorance" in mind, grantees expressed varying perspectives on racism as a factor in health equity, community readiness to address racism issues and strategies to combat racism in their communities.