National Public Health Week 2019 Forum

National Public Health Week 2019 Forum


Good afternoon welcome to the launch of
National Public Health Week 2019 the inaugural National Public Health Week
actually was held in 1995 24 years ago with the theme of public health is you
too which I think that works very well for what we’re gonna be talking about this
afternoon it focused on the role that people can play in protecting their own
health and that of their families and communities a presidential proclamation
noted that health is one of life’s precious gifts that’s what I’ve always
appreciated about National Public Health Week it celebrates the contribution of
public health workers of grassroots advocates of those in universities and
communities of students who are being educated to take on today’s public
health challenges this morning or this morning this afternoon sorry I didn’t
quite make that transition either we will be engaged with grassroots
advocates who are the backbone of public health communities starting with a
keynote address but I’m going to just do one other thing before I introduce our
keynote speaker and that is to thank the Aetna Foundation for being here today
and for partnering with us in this important work now it’s my privilege to
introduce our keynote speaker Joia Crear-Perry. She is the founder and
president of a National Birth Equity Collaborative. Recently she addressed the
United Nations office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urge a
human rights framework to improve maternal mortality previously she served
as the Executive Director of the birthing project and director of the
Women’s and Children’s Services at Jefferson Community Healthcare Center
and as the Director of the clinical services for the city of New Orleans
Health Department where she was responsible for four facilities
providing health care for the homeless pediatric WIC and gynecological services
Dr. Crear-Perry continues to work to improve access and
availability of affordable health care in New Orleans. After receiving her
bachelor’s education at Princeton University and Xavier University Dr.
Crear-Perry completed her medical education at Louisiana State University
and her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Tulane University. She is a
fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology a proud
recipient of the Congressional Black Caucus healthcare heroes award and the
Harvard University global visionary award for commitment to advancing
women’s health Dr. Crear-Perry currently serves on the
advisory committee of the Black Mama’s Matters Alliance, principal at Health
Equity Cipher and on the board of trustees for community catalyst National
Medical Association and the New Orleans African-American Museum. She is married
to Dr. Andrea Perry and has three children. Jade, Carlos and Robison. Her
love is her family Health equity is her passion and maternal child health are
her callings. Please welcome me join me in welcoming Dr. Crear-Perry to the
podium Thank you so much for that warm
introduction good afternoon everybody I’m from New Orleans so I’m a little loud I
just have to say so I will probably be a little bit louder I’m gonna try to not
to be too loud for you I am so honored to be here thank you I’ve been a member
and a part of APHA for a while so it’s exciting for me to leave kick-off this
week and having this opportunity to have a National Public Health Week. I didn’t
realize it was 24 years old I guess that’s about your age right Jordan? I
have to call up my godson you know it’s the thing we do yes so his oldest
Jordan so that’s gonna make me always remember that so thank you for that. So
it’s important for us to honor the grassroots in the movement for it cuz that’s
the birth a really public health it came from grassroots and although now it’s
become this huge kind of bureaucracy and inside of academic structures and public
health departments what I hope we will get to today is if you hear nothing else
that I say today to remember that the beginnings of public health started in
the community and so that’s what we’re gonna have to really do to hold it
accountable to decolonize it as we were talking about earlier as we move forward so as was mentioned I’m the founder and
president of the national birth equity collaborative when we were founded four
years ago through funding through the WK Kellogg Foundation we did not have a
definition for birth equity there were definitions for equity in general for
health equity but not specifically for birth equity so we said as an
organization and really thought well what does that mean for us you know you
we need to have kind of a North Star or a vision or a definition of your work so
we looked at all these other definitions and what it resonated for us
some of the definitions for equity speak of it as a place right we’re gonna get
to this place where everybody’s equal we’re all gonna hold hands and sing
Kumbaya and the world would be wonderful but we recognize especially sometimes in
our current political environment we can get a couple of steps forward and a few
steps back right so perhaps we’re not looking for a place of equity but we’re
looking for the assurances I do not expect my grandchildren to not have to
keep fighting for equity because there will always be people who want inequity
so what we have to view to do is make sure that we put the policies assurances
big P little P in place for equity so that means we have to then look for
the conditions for optimal birth so we don’t want people just to survive
pregnancy say oh I made it right we want them to thrive what does it look like to
have your best life your best pregnancy and we have to be willing to address
both racial and social inequalities and a sustained effort so to my friend
Martha Graham and others at Edna foundation we love you for these grants
but it’s gonna take more than three years to fix this right we got here for
four hundred years we’ve been here so it’s gonna take a long time to unpack
some of the traumas that we’ve been through I don’t know if you know if
you’ve heard of reproductive justice anybody no or hear of reproductive justice
before yay okay so my rj advocates right now a lot of them are at a birth
summit together working on equity there but so reproductive justice is founded
in the 1990s by black women and then women of color continue to build upon it
and we’re still right now working on kind of reproductive justice 2.0 because
frameworks and movements always evolve right but it’s an original beginnings it
was a response to the first iteration of health care reform under the Clinton
administration so imagine at that time we had this
opportunity in 90s to really expand on reproductive rights so there’s a lot of
conversations about contraception access to having abortion all those kind of
language but there wasn’t a conversation around if you are a black woman even
though I can have access to contraception if I’m worried about my
eight-year-old son playing in a park with a toy gun I don’t have reproductive
justice so we really have to expand the lens around what really reproductive
justice would look like black mothers are afraid that they’re they won’t
outlive their children so you need to be just as worried about my son if you want
to have reproductive justice and not that I have access to a birth control
pill or a Larc in today’s environment so the meaning of it according to
Loretta Ross is that you have to maintain personal bodily autonomy so
that means like if I don’t want to Larc I don’t want to Larc you can’t make me
have an IUD if I don’t want one if I want to have children so if I want eight
children it is my choice my body you can’t control that and if I don’t want
to have children I am a whole human being regardless if I ever decide to
have a child I was valuable just at being so we value right now a lot of
women inside of our health care system only during pregnancy so we only pay for
their health care when they are pregnant so that says we don’t value them in any
other time in their life so there’s a lot of women who never have children
what are we saying about our value for them and then last thing the part about
my son in the park is really this idea of being able to parent your children
and safe and sustainable communities so that is really what you get into and the
understanding things like mass incarceration impacts our reproductive
health right environmental justice impacts our reproductive health so you
cannot silo reproduction to only the issues around access to birth control if
you’re not worried about all these that are intersecting ideas so the work that
we do really centers around both black infant and maternal health and part of
the reason is back in 2010 Emily sent him an international in the UN sanction
the us around maternal mortality they have a whole Commission on the committee
for people of African descent across the globe but when it came to the US they
saw things like mass incarceration they saw things like lack of education what
they saw from health was that we are the only industrialized nation where more
mothers are dying in childbirth now than they were 20 years ago that says that
my daughter is more likely to die in childbirth than I was when I had her so
we are going backwards every other nation who has as much money as we do
their numbers are going down and for black woman that number is three to four
times the rate so we understood that when that information came out as black
women as advocates as people inside the reproductive justice movement if we
didn’t get ahead of that narrative talking about the fact that black women
were dying at three to four times the rate what we would get back from media
from policy makers is well of course they’re dying at three or four times
away because they’re more obese and they don’t listen and they smoke and they’re
more obese there’s always a you know we start with obesity just keep going so we
really wanted to make sure that we have a narrative that understands the
structures around that and not just problematizing individuals and behaviors
these are the common clinical indicators for maternal mortality and you’ll see
that cardiac disease is the most common at one point it was hemorrhage so what
this slide is going to point out to you is that we have had a commitment from
our medical community for the last 10 or 15 years to start focusing and when we
focus on a thing we can do really well so we hemorrhage was number one and we
got hemorrhage down but guess what’s coming up now cardiac
disease right and what is cardiac disease a sign of a sign of people not
having access to insurance before they get pregnant a sign of them not
having safe and sustainable communities all the things I mentioned in in the
beginning around reproductive justice you see come out when people have like
Erica Garner dying from cardiomyopathy six months after having a baby
the stress of racism killing her body right so we have to really own how we
are toxic to women’s bodies and that causes them to have higher rates of
illness and disease when we were able with this with through work with the
New York City to disaggregate the data right because if the narrative is the
reason black woman die in childbirth is because there’s something that they are
just doing we don’t really have data to support that
so we disaggregate the data by income by weight by neighborhood these are the
kind of things you find out that black mothers who were college educated fare
worse than women of all races who never finished high school that obese women of
all races have better birth outcomes than black among women who of normal
weight so I can’t even crunch my way out right and do my little yoga that
black women in the wealthiest neighborhoods do worse than white
Hispanic and Asian mothers in the poorest ones we can even move from it
and then this is the one that my OBGYN colleagues really struggle with because
we believe we’re saving the world and we’re so awesome African-American women
who initiated prenatal care in the first trimester had higher rates of infant
mortality than non-Hispanic white women so even that the narrative when you pick
policies just based upon these narratives you’re going to do things
like we got to get everybody into prenatal care and that won’t still
say but that won’t end the disparities and then inequities that we have because
they’re getting in the care and they’re being treated poorly and they’re not
being listened to and they don’t want it and then they end up dying in childbirth
like many of the advocates that you’ll see in some of the articles you might
have read so it’s just important for us that this framing what it means is yes
income is protective for black women yes education is protective but it’s not as
protective as being white is all right so whiteness we when we make when we
created this idea that their difference of value for human beings based upon
race that comes out in our health outcomes it’s a made-up idea but the
good news is we can stop doing it okay so some of the risk factors that
are clinical risk factors as you come to the doctor’s office andyou say I’m
pregnant and I heard this thing about people can
die in childbirth and black women are dying what are some of the risk factors
we’ll say things like eclampsia which is having high blood pressure and then
having a seizure or cardiac disease like I mentioned before so cardiomyopathy
like Erika Garner had some blood clots right like Serena Williams had they’re
having history of having of having a hysterectomy while you’re pregnant or a
childbirth but some of the social risk factors that we don’t ask about but we
know are real or your housing your income food insecurity access to
comprehensive health services the countries that have better outcomes than
we do do all these social things right Finland Sweden they’re not looking for a
biological basis for why women are dying in childbirth they actually just care
for women generally differently they were created from the beginning with the
human rights framework where they believe all people are equal so
therefore they invest in health care for everybody they invest in free college
invest in paternity leave so when we do things like when a model a baby box as
if that’s gonna save babies when the rest of the things that that country is
doing includes free college we are really just buying things without
investing in people and that narrative is how we keep getting bad outcomes and
why we spend a lot more money than everybody else but have the worst
outcomes in this country so when I was in the world as the clinical director
after Hurricane Katrina I was young and I was a young person in the room I get
to take notes why all the big fancy people would come and the World Health
Organization came everybody was coming you know the president was coming
whenever and I get to go these meetings and they were talking about this new
idea back in 2005 of social determinants of health it was in as amazing thought
that it wasn’t just people’s genes that determine their health or their bad
choices right so they have unhealthy behaviors and psychosocial stress not
because they just decide they want to be obese but because there’s all these
other things in their life that happen they don’t have a living wage
right so you stress eat you know or you can’t buy salmon well you don’t have
salmon money right you’re gonna buy what you can afford stuff in a can stuff in a
jar stuff they last longer well you don’t have transportation there’s some
data in New York around I keep talking about New
Yorker because I spend probably way too much time on your there’s data around having
lack of subway stops in different parts of the city right so having all those
things knowing that there’s parts of New York City that you can get a subway
every few feet and then the parts that actually have fewer needs more resource
you gotta walk miles to get to a subway stop so those are that transportation
lack of access that keeps people from being able to be healthy and this
caused this disparity and distribution of disease illness and well-being but
just be clear that that top of the slide is still empty for a reason because
although since 2005 it’s been exciting that we’ve been talking about social
determinants as I’m Richard Haass returning talks about in his book above
this we have a power and wealth imbalance all right and so there are
things like our labor markets our housing policy our tax policies our
education systems all those things are dictated by power and wealth and so they
caused the social determinants of people don’t decide to live next to each other
in black neighborhoods because they just like other black people right we have
root causes for how that happened and in U.S. context those three root causes are
racism classism and gender oppression if we were in a more global context we
might add religious fundamentalism we might add caste ism you might add
tribalism but until you actually deal with the root causes of why you have
social determinants of health you will always have this inequities and
disparities and disease right because they’re gonna probably gonna have rural
classism right so you’re not gonna invest in rural places this you’re gonna
have native people who are dying because we’re not invested in natives so all
those same things continue to play out so although we want to work on the full
social determinants whatever your role is wherever you’re working be sure to
understand that the importance of the root causes
so racism is what causes us to be harmed that race race is not genetic it’s not
biological God didn’t put us on different continents and say don’t mix
and all those are narratives that we’ve had in this country for a very long time
so racial bias can lead to discrimination but when you have racial
bias plus power the ability to cause harm that’s when you actually have
racism so there’s a you hear a lot of people talk about racism as an emotion
people get very nervous they feel like some moral judge
they don’t want to say the word it makes them nervous I want you to feel really
calm you shouldn’t feel nervous about saying it it’s a historic and a current
truth that we have a hierarchy of human value based upon skin color in the globe
around the globe so the good news once you once you accept that it’s a fact you
can stop doing it yes we can change our belief around that because we know it to
be untrue so racism is a social determinants of
health inequities we add the term in- equities because people act as if now
when you hear things like your zip code is bigger more important a DNA code then
which just prioritize the people who live in those zip codes without thinking
about how they had how they were created and what created these zip codes in the
first place so racism affects your body both directly and indirectly I do a lot
of unconscious bias trainings because that’s what people feel comfortable is
calling them and they’re not going to talk about racism you know so they all
know it but this is what we do right but so it’s important to understand that unconscious bias is real I don’t know if any of you taken unconscious the implicit bias test online anybody taken it you should take it good I took
it turns out I’m a bias against old white dudes I know you’re shocked you
would have never guessed I know but it’s based upon my experiences and so all of
us have biases based on our experiences based upon our what we’ve seen what’s
happened to us so what I do is work on my bias so that means I lean in not run
away so that means I have to individualize when I meet them that
means I have to stop stereotyping I don’t put them all into one thing I fly
a lot so I have a lot of miles I get put in first class people ask me a lot about
politics I have to not group it all together and make not make assumptions
and have a normal conversation it makes me live longer when I can do that so you
too if you have a bias you can work on your bias you will live longer if you
can stop stereotyping and move forward Dr. Kumar Jones a past president of APHA
has created or not created she has the different levels of racism that we now
can use inside the and I would argue that public health is getting a
lot better at talking about this and using this and other teachings and
understandings I think healthcare has a longer way to go and so we’re really
starting to work with the providers clinical providers nurses doctors around
understanding race – the impact of racism and how it works as other
institutions but I think APHA and others have really led the way in this
station around racism and making it showing that just like health is not an
individual choice but there’s a health system that racism is not individual
choice it’s a system my favorite book is Abram Kennedy’s book stamp from the
beginning the history of racist ideas in America and he had the anti racism
Institute at American University here and I get to do some work with him
around maternal mortality but he talks about cuz the question is always what
came first racism or racist policies like chicken what happened and really he
says that people use racist ideas for their own personal it’s for their
own personal to get things for themselves so for their power so
power imbalances creates these racist policies so if you are a politician and
you know that you can say some racist thing and you’ll get more political
power you just use it so it evolves so that’s why you can go from the idea that
black people were inferior so much so that you could own them so that you can
segregate them so now that you can do things like not give them insurance
right so like it just evolves the idea of having that people have different
value so in the pet so we can use political action currently to undo these
deliberate political actions so this is the history of my own field OBGYN doctor
Marion Sims one of the founders of obstetrics and gynecology went around
the country doing surgeries on three women who were enslaved without any
anesthesia he created the speculum so there’s some smart folks at MIT who are
doing unhak the speculum right because think about what he believed that the
women did not feel pain because they were able to tolerate the surgery so we
still have that belief system inside of our health care system the day when they
asked residents they believed that black women don’t feel as much pain so it’s
something magic about more melanin production that gets their pain so I
have no idea how that would work but there is a belief around that so just
know that when you know the history of your own institution then you have to
think about all the ways that plays out and how we treat people how we care for
people I also attended Tulane there was a physician at Tulane who Dr.
Cartwright who created a disease called drapetomania and it was a disease if a
slave wanted to escape he’s in textbooks that he would they would whip them if
they looked a person in the eye they would cut off a finger
so the treatment was to be free so of course we have t-shirts
that say drapetomaniac because you know I’m always trying to be free so
just know this history inside of healthcare is so important and that you
should know the history inside of public health as well so that you have a real
accurate understanding of then how does that play out and the current things
that you do and how we don’t have as much grassroots organizing so we really
want you to move upstream away from this idea that what your job is is to work on
people’s individual behaviors and to change them but really what are those
power and wealth imbalances and what is the social structure that we’re going to
do in order to improve outcomes and how we need grassroots organizing and
grassroots organizations in order to get that done because they’re actually close
to the people right you’re not gonna figure that out sitting inside of a
mayor’s or sitting like I was with the World Health Organization those people
are so far removed from actual the members that you’re talking to who need
services that their ideas will not be something that’s replicable a lot of
times in communities so what we’ve been able to through our organization is I
was able to testify for HR 1318 which the President signed into law that gave
about 40 million dollars to actually start trying to count maternal deaths in
the u.s. we haven’t had an accurate count since 2007 so the numbers that you
see you’ll see it’s a something like 700 to 900 that’s a really large range the
reason it’s a large range because we don’t count maternal deaths we work with
maternal mortality review committees we have black maternal health week coming
up April 11th through the 17th we are looking we’re also work with party
collaborative the state level and with IHI they’re wanting to build equity
framework so how can we have grassroots change well first you have to listen you
have to always center the experience of the people who you’re working with and
use the resources for the greatest impact with them you have to connect to
and build trust with patients and with oppressed populations the idea that you
can sit on high and then create and they’re just gonna want to come to you
because you’re so smart in a fancy academic center or some that’s not
going to happen so really we have all that history that I talked about from
and I could have gone to more recent history we you know we talk a lot about
Tuskegee and others but there’s a lot of things you could talk about so you have
to build trust you have to invest in community engagement and participatory policy making and that is hard for us to do inside of Public Health
because we haven’t done that in a while but how do we really engage with
community members to be a part of the policies and that we’re making and
develop deep relationships there was assumption in Baltimore that there were
that the patients were gonna want to have more policing because there was so
much crime so that when we actually did community engagement the patients the
community members wanted more housing so we will go way left when we don’t
actually talk to the people who are talking we need to work with about what
their needs are what their desires are storytelling humanizes issues we’ve
spent a lot of time trying to get articles in the media because when you
see the people like Shalon who had a PhD who worked at CDC who still died
after having her baby it humanizes it and to not just say oh
nine hundred women a year die in childbirth the United States so really
ain’t sure if you’re gonna do this work alone for that you have storytelling
that you built a culture of storytelling that you when you say data that you
don’t think that narrative is not important it’s not just quantitative
data you need actual human stories to go along with the quantitative data so this
is my Flint story so I might get this wrong I’m open to correction so there
was a pediatrician in Flint who she saw that her patients were having these
issues from having lid so she kept calling the Health Department saying hey
guys my patients are having this high lead level in the Health Department
said we tested the water it’s not an issue it’s not an issue so finally they
got outside consultants to come in and they tested the water differently
because there’s two ways to get water back and I don’t still know if this is
true some of the water comes from the Flint River and some comes from mm-hmm
Detroit am I getting this right so far yeah okay good and so and so when you test it and you average it out it did seem normal but when you did it based upon the where the
water was coming from there was a significant part of the city that had a
higher rate so ignoring the people and not listening to the voice of the
community you’re going to keep having your data being incomplete and you will
create poor policy so every time you think about that policy that you’re making in
public health if you’re not talking to the people then you are going to cause
actual harm the same thing happened in New York we had we were able to come
together with the births justice defenders and they brought down the
Marion Sims statue right so here there was a statue
to the doctor that I was talking about who’s been there’s another one that
we’re still working on there’s about three of them in the country but in New
York we were able it sits across for the New York Academy of Medicine and this is
a really big win because we don’t want to idolize people who have been harmful
to us we use we have we’re in a documentary titled death by delivery you
can do phone calls you can do emails these are all advocacy grassroots tools
that we can use in public health when we are afraid to advocate with our with the
people that we work with and we are afraid that that’s not our job we are
also saying we’re not willing to really do the work of Public Health because
that’s not what we came from advocacy the fear of them not having advocacy
makes us bureaucratic and not actually working with the communities the Black
Mamas Matter of alliance is a I’m on the Advisory Committee of and this is at
the Motherhouse if you ever go to Atlanta you have to know the mother
house and take a picture on the steps and we that’s really where reproductive
justice was founded and like I mentioned we have black maternal health week
coming up if you go on the Black Mamas Matter Alliance website you can see the
different ways you can engage there’s gonna be activity last year was our
inaugural one and we had a lot of events and so really just heightening this idea
and making sure that we censor the needs of women of color we created a black
paper not a white paper and so it’s called setting the standard for holistic
care of and for black women it really talks about all the things you need like
access to doula services a more robust midwifery community how OBGYNs can be
part of a system the countries that also that have better outcomes and we do have
a much more robust system of midwifery care and we really need to think about
why we don’t have that and what happened to granny midwifery in this country the
beginning of midwifery we are the currently the my organization the
National Birth the Equity Collaborative is a primary investigator for a Robert
Wood Johnson grant and our subcontractors are Stanford CMQCC and
ACOG Alliance for Maternal Health so that’s decolonizing research right
there for Robert Wood Johnson to choose the small nonprofit to be the PI and
our subcontractors to be the big academic institution and American
College of ob-gyn is a whole power shift dynamic that we have to work through
every time we talk but it’s an important move and our job
though is to really listen to and create a patient-reported experience metric for
disrespectful care so across the globe there’s a standard for respectful
care for maternity care we do not have one of the United States so what would
it look like for us to have a respectful care standard because we realized that
the women are dying white or black everybody because they’re not being listened to
they’re not being heard they say things about their hemorrhage they say things
about their pain and no one’s following up on it so really what would respectful
care look like so we’re hoping that once we build up with these larger
institutions that it will become institutionalized and they will start
using it to hold themselves accountable and so there’s some grassroots examples
we’ve having transportation making sure that you work on your uninsured rates
these are things you could do inside of public health think we work with the New Orleans
Health Department around having we have a lot of people in New Orleans who have work
in hotels they don’t have access to paid leave what does it look like to have the
tourism bureau working on paid leave it’s at least for moms right it’s a
small ask you’ve probably seen food pantries you know these are normal the
things that you should be doing inside a grassroots that also should be inside a
public health as one opportunity and just the reason that we need these
strategic partnerships like universities and academic institutions to local and
state advocacy organizations local media outlets racial and social justice
organizations because when you have this collaboration you can get greater
funding increase your opportunities for impact have data Intel and develop
trusting relationships and you should think about stepping back as a large
organization and allowing the smaller organization to lead and you actually
learn from them so this is my favorite slide my last slide and it’s really what
comes from Abraham’s book he sells a story around Abraham Lincoln we all love
right for you to slaves I’m happy he came I’m happy was the President and so
I have a built up in my mind a narrative about who he was as a human being right
I think he must have been really moral and just and good right can we agree we
think that so he was nearing the end of the war and he brought the top five
black folks into the White House so you can picture it like the top five black
people coming in when he sat them down he said look guys I have like three
million dollars Liberia says you can come why don’t you
take your people and go and so the black folks were like um no we’ve been here
we built this country for free we’re staying turns out and he said but
you’re being so selfish if you would just leave the war would end so at the
core although he was a good and moral person he still was a segregationist
because he still believed that black people were broken and needed to go back
to Africa we had served our purpose we had built this country and there was
something innately different about us we were something that could not be fixed
so if you are doing this work with us if you’re really doing Public Health and
you want to do grassroots work you have to believe that we’re all equal that
makes you actively anti racism once you start with the premise that no we’re not
broken that you’re needed to fix us but there are systems and structures that
are harmful to us then you can leave be a part of the movement for anti racism
to end disparities in public health so that’s it thank you very much that was a
wonderful way to start the afternoon I realized when you mentioned Dr. Camaro
Jones said I didn’t introduce myself with you getting to this whole thing so
who is this old white woman standing up here talking with you I’m Pam Aaltonen
current president of APHA it’s my pleasure now to introduce our moderator
for the the panel Steve Sternberg who is the assistant managing editor of Health
Initiatives US News and World Report Steve is let’s see maybe I need to
advance the slide is that better Steve is a veteran award-winning journalist he
has reported on most if not all of the major public health stories that have
emerged over the past 20 years including HIV/AIDS human genome Hurricane Katrina
hantavirus the anthrax attacks and the Haiti earthquake he was the architect
for the health ratings developed to identify best hospitals and best
children’s hospitals for you say today his role at US News includes
being a liaison with others on assessment parameters for the healthiest
communities having served as a youth coach for both baseball and hockey tells
me that Steve believes in the importance of physical activity
he received his baccalaureate degree in English literature from Ithaca College
and completed graduate work at Stanford University and Johns Hopkins University
if you had an opportunity to read his May 2nd 2018 US News and World Report
article a Healthy Return Advocates Investing in Troubled Communities hope
to Bring Together More Than Just Surface- level Change you will know why he’s an
excellent choice to moderate this panel Steve Wow
well thank you Pam you’ve telescoped about 30 years of history into about
five minutes so a couple of things just you know I was I was an architect of
healthiest communities which is a u.s. News & World Report project that
evaluates a whole bunch of social determinants for 3,000 counties around
the United States we looked at 80 81 indicators and I’m not going to talk
about that in depth here because I want I think we’re all here to hear the
panelists but you know I want to thank the the folks at the Aetna Foundation
who are our collaborators and sponsors on that project and I want to thank the
the Public Health Association for inviting inviting me to speak here today
having covered all of those issues I have to say that I’ve had a lot of
contact with the kinds of issues that Joia mentioned in her talk but
I’m you know and and you know I’ve always viewed reporting on public health
is kind of a ticket into other kinds of worlds and other kinds of communities
you cannot write about public health without visiting barrios and and Native
American reservations and and and black communities but I want to make it very
clear that I understand this and I’m just a voyager in those worlds i don’t
live in those communities i haven’t had those experiences and to the extent that
I can what I’m trying to do is bring to the fore the voices of people who have
had those experiences and who can tell authentic stories and that’s really why
we’re here today one of the other things I’ve learned and
in in in that journey is that that there are heroes on the streets you know you
people ask you questions how can you how can you go to these communities in
Africa that have been so hard hit by a host of public health problems you know
and maintain your optimism and and maintain your good spirits and come away
thinking that we have a future on this planet and the reason you can do that is
because you’re surrounded by heroes there are heroes everywhere you turn
people may not know who they are but but but they’re there and actually they’re
right here so it’s my privilege to introduce four such folks who are working
you know fighting with some very intractable issues in their own
communities and it’s really a privilege to be able to introduce them so on my
far right I’m gonna have to juggle some papers here because they’re a little out
of order but we have pastor Jordan Boyd who was born in Memphis he’s a graduate
of Frazier High School he’s the pastor at Rockwell AME Church in Mecklenburg
North Carolina he works endlessly and I’m gonna I’m
gonna abbreviate these things because we’re gonna hear a lot more from these
folks and they can tell you more about their backgrounds but suffice it to say
he works endlessly for the underserved he’s led the church in receiving the
Balm in Gilead Healthy Churches Award for 2019 for the promotion of behavior changes toward healthy living he serves
as an ambassador for the village heartbeat program which is a 2019
recipient of the healthy cities and challenges award and to his left we have
Carma Lewis she is a neighborhood activist and from what I gather Flint’s
most precious natural resource other than water she works with Flint
neighborhoods united a collection of neighborhood associations block clubs
and and crime watches she’s done this for a number of years she was hired
simply to work at a water crisis nation on Flint’s East Side a position funded
through the state of Michigan federal dollars they found that they couldn’t do
without her so she is now involved in in almost every health promotion activity
right that that Flint has going on so so it’s a perfect to have her on the panel
sitting next to Carma is Javier Lopez and he and I had a really great
conversation about about all of the stuff he’s gotten up to I mean he was he
was an Assistant Commissioner in the New York City Department of Health and
Mental Hygiene and focused on mental on health equity and discovered you know as
as Joia said there’s only so much he can do from the top so he is now working
with the Red Hook initiative in Red Hook Brooklyn and we have a lot to talk about
when it comes to to Red Hook and I’m and on my immediate right I have Deb Thomas-Simms she’s with the East End neighborhood
revitalization zone project in Bridgeport Connecticut and folks in
Bridgeport and especially in East End are dealing with some serious challenges
her project was another recipient to 2019 recipient of the healthiest cities
challenge award they’re being recognized for their pop-up market and cafe which
is which is which is in the works it should open its
doors very soon you know that wouldn’t be such a big story anywhere else but in
but in the East End of Bridgeport Connecticut if you want to go to a
grocery store you have to travel what is it 20 minutes by by car and
about 45 minutes by public transportation and you have to carry all
those groceries home so this is a big deal for folks in in Bridgeport and I
want to I want to just stop there and I want to begin the conversation with
everybody here and maybe the way to go at least in my view since since we are
voyagers I’d like to start with with Pastor Pastor Boyd just to ask him
can you talk a little bit about about Mecklenburg County about Charlotte North
Carolina and and and what your community is like sir good afternoon thank you again for the
opportunity to come and share with you here today mecklenburg North Carolina is
a great city it’s a great place to live it’s size is just disproportionate for a
city it’s size to have two major sports teams the Hornets and the Panthers
that’s in part because I think now we’re the second largest financing city in the
country with Bank of America and Wells Fargo but underneath the veneer of the
success and sports and the massive gentrification that’s taking place there
is a very dark side that exists that began to become revealed through the
Harvard study that listed Mecklenburg County as 50 out of 50 major cities for
which someone born into poverty 30 years later would still be in poverty because
of their inability to upwardly move throughout the traverse of success and
the inability to access through social capital and other means opportunities
that would allow them to lift themselves from that state as well as a large
pocket population of increased AIDS and HIV cases in Mecklenburg County and a
disproportionate as it’s known in public health speak in Mecklenburg County the
Crescent zip codes that have highlighted areas of
persons with high chronic disease markers I’m happy to be a part of an
initiative that began with a dreamer by the name of Shirley Manuel who is a
public health director who has spent the last thirty years working in Mecklenburg
County and has realized unlike many that if you want to reach
the African-American community the way to do that is still the gateway through
the church the African-American church is still the one institution that while
communities change the churches find a way to stay a part of the community and
becomes an avenue by which community organizations and organizers are able to
tap into a community otherwise unreached and so I’m happy to be here today to to
be a part of this discussion thank you pastor Boyd and and I’d like to just
give a shout out to Cheryl who’s here with us today and hopefully she’ll be
able to to join us in the discussion Carma a couple of quick minutes can you
introduce yourself and my name is Carma Lewis okay my name is Carma Lewis and I
was born and raised in Flint I moved away after college and ended up
returning and upon my return is when I actually noticed the difference even
though I was back and forth visiting family because my mom still there I
really didn’t know what was going on until I moved back and I noticed when I
looked out my window things were different a lot of abandoned homes falling apart
and even though I saw this I still loved my hometown there were I have lots of
ties and then the people that were there were still the same nice people there
was always willing to help fast forward to the water crisis and it was amplified
where people residents were so much more willing to help one another and I have
found that people that come to Flint from elsewhere for the first time they
realized that this is not what I thought Flint is not what I thought I thought it
was crime wouldn’t ridden place but in reality they come they met meet good
people that’s willing to show them around and allow them to experience the
reality of Flint and for those of you who have never been there you have to
come and check out it I love my home town thank you Carma Javier so good afternoon everybody just wanna
cosign that Stamped from the Beginning should be a reading for all individuals
who were in justice work or in any type of field would it really gave to me as a
reflection was how assimilation this principles and neoliberalists neoliberal
policies have converged in this country in a way that has really eradicated any
pipeline to liberation for people of color not to be it I’m a I’m usually an
optimist but my pessimism reigns supreme when you start understanding the history
and how you know the movements have been stymied by policies in that book just
really like gives a perspective that I feel everybody in this room should check
out and read if you have it so I’m having yet I’m Javier born and raised in New
York City I’ve had the privilege and the honor to serve many neighborhoods and
can you throughout New York City over the last
12 to 15 years I’m presently working out of the borough of Brooklyn in the Red
Hook community of Brooklyn for those of you who’ve ever traveled to Brooklyn
Arvid been to Brooklyn Red Hook is the neighborhood that has really been a part
of the New York City fabric for many many years but has gone through various
descriptions in those years and I think when you think about Stamped from the
Beginning and many books that talk about how people of color come to certain
neighborhoods it kind of plays out in neighborhoods in New York City that have
very much been segregated for a number of years but in Red Hook you know I’m
privileged to support a community that really has being separated by a lot of
different things it was separated by Robert Moses an urban planner and
someone who really eradicated and destroyed people of color communities in
New York City by highways so the highway that really has segregated Red Hook
Brooklyn was established to really you know create better pipelines and
pathways for industry but in many ways that created a neighborhood that was
forgotten about it went from a longshore fishermen community to a community that
then became part of establishing the largest housing housing development
across the country under the Roosevelt administration it’s one of the oldest
holdings of public health developments across the country and as a result of
that they’ve fallen on hard times as a neighborhood when Hurricane
sandy hit in 2012 the organization that I worked for the Red Hook initiative who
had previously done work on maternal health related areas and women’s health
related areas because it came out of a hospital grant in many ways that was the
origin of the organization I work for they were there in the front lines
supporting the public housing projects and the New York City public housing
residents and getting access to food water to communication mechanisms to
really get connected to the wider New York City but in the country because in
Red Hook it was like I described it was separated by highway in so many ways
that community was forgotten about by many others and what I see in Red Hook
on a daily basis is the reason I left the health department
is it’s a neighborhood that creates a level of responsibility for action you
can’t be walking around serving the folks that make up 70% of that
neighborhood which are primarily people of color public housing residents and
not have a response to the issues that they have we serve the youth
predominantly an organization but we work with the families we celebrate
every young person that leaves to go to college but we think about what type of
environment that person is gonna come back to we want to create this pipeline
where people have to leave and never come back the sister just set here to my
right that she came back to Flint Michigan I want all the young people
that go through the Red Hook initiative that go to college to come back to the
neighborhood and be a part of the liberation movement so they can own the
land that is being taken away from them so they can own the apartments that are
going to be privatized if we don’t get our acts together to figure out how we
can fix the public housing community these are all areas that I’m interested
in working on with a public health framework
I left the health the public health department several months ago because I became
disillusioned that government really cared about people
I don’t think government cares about people I think grassroots organizations
and organizers cared more about people in government every well I think
government though if pushed and if the voices of the many can come together can
work towards a systemic change that will take a couple of generations to be felt
but we have to work in that direction so I’m honored to join my panelists today
and I’m also honored to be a part of a discussion that lifts up the organizing
community which in many ways are being taken advantage of by high academic
government institutions and petri dish operations as opposed to problem-solving
operations good afternoon everybody my name is Debbie Sims and I’m from the
East End NRZ pop-up market in cafe I’m also going to introduce two of my
partners who are here with me today it’s Debra Caviness and she is the
president and CEO of the Greater Bridgeport OIC who are our job
training partners and Detective Harold M Ball was retired to detective who now
works the FBI who works with us on the
violence prevention side on dealing with our youth who are at risk out there
in the street so the East End pop-up mark let me talk about Bridgeport for a little
bit so I love Bridgeport I’m a 30-year resident of our neighborhood probably 40
years I like to say 30 but and I’m gonna start by saying I had this discussion
with a group of our NRZ members so this is the way they describe our
neighborhood and and we’re gonna change the narrative so East End prior to us
opening a pop-up was a 30-year the longest standing food desert in the
state of Connecticut we have the highest rates of obesity we have the highest rates of asthma we
have the highest rates of hypertension as of last week our gun violence is out of
control you name it we have it I said when we write grants that’s how we have
to describe our neighborhood we we have to change that narrative and that’s what
we’re gonna do through our work that we’re gonna do out of this market so
when we came up with the concept for the market one it was really to look at
addressing the issues providing fresh fruits and vegetables to our
neighborhood so I live there everybody in the world has come to our
neighborhood with all these flashy ideas trying to open a store in our in our
neighborhood but no one was able to get it done so the group of us I call us a
trio there’s one but there’s two dads and another person so that we were sick
and tired of being sick and tired and then we figured out a way to get it done
dimbo who’s on our sec I call our second part of our team addresses the violence
component because we realize that we have to have a neighborhood that’s safe
for people to come to so we all got together and figured out
surveyed about 500 people in our neighborhood and looked at a way looked
at what we needed to get done in order to address the issues that were there so
we needed food we needed jobs and we needed to address the issues of violence in the neighborhood collectively we all had a part of that
and took a part of that and made that a reality for us thank you thank you all
so much so just thinking about the themes that emerged in that in that
discussion we all we all you all heard very people from very different kind of
places with very similar themes and interestingly enough some some very
maybe unexpected ways of dealing with them so we have and I know this from
speaking with Pastor Boyd just before the discussion there dealing with with a lot
of gun violence in Mecklenburg as well and yet you know we’re here to talk
about behavior change healthy behaviors trying to improve health outcomes and
we’re trying to use that as kind of a vehicle for transforming communities and
transforming communities away from violence toward healthy behaviors toward
toward access to the healthcare and food and and so I wonder if if I could just
challenge the panelists maybe starting with with and Javier to talk a little
bit about about you know populate some of these population health approaches to
youth violence and one of one of the things that are emerged in our
discussions that I’d like to ask specifically about is that Javier was
telling me that in in Red Hook the youth are concerned that that that the police
presence actually baguettes violence and Deborah was telling me that they’ve had
so many shootings and in the East End that they need to get police in there now to to stop the violence were privileged
to have the detective here I think probably can help inform this discussion
and and I would I would also welcome Pastor Boyd’s input on this too but Deborah maybe you can start us off so in
our community we are privileged to with the police mean it’s not easy at all times we’re
grateful for our detective Denton Ball but we have a great working relationship
with them because we have to respect the law there is no way around it and what
we’re faced with now the next couple last couple of weeks it’s been very
difficult but they have access to information and they have protocols and
procedures that we do not and what we try to do is we work with parents and we
work with siblings and we try to intervene on their behalf and when we
can’t work with them then we have to bring them turn them over to a detective
Ball and in he cannot work with him then he will turn them over to the law
so as mothers we work with mother groups we bring them in we have conversations
they say we know your son we know your daughter is out there on the street you
know what can we do to help to bring this kid in what can we help him you
know we know he has a gun we know he did this we’re here to help you what can we
help and if he can’t then we need to do something differently let me ask you
just on what the role what role the market plays in this so the market has
become I love the market so if you haven’t seen our video you gotta look at it the market has become the
gathering spot it’s the safe spot it is the spot where I knew it was going to
change lives but I didn’t realize like the impact that the market was going to
have can I share a story by all means ok i am going to share a story so when we first we’re not opened up
because we’re still waiting on our door but the mothers groups our mothers group
meets there it’s called YANA you are not alone and there are moms who’ve lost
their children to violence so they were having their meeting there
and I’m a mother showed up at one of their meetings so she came here because
she heard this group of mothers was meeting there but there were she was a
mother who lost her son to suicide and she walked in she goes I know this is
not the right meeting but I didn’t know where else to go so I’m sitting there
listening and I was like wow so we have a mother you know she comes to this meeting but like we opened the door for black women to begin a discussion to talk about suicide so for me that
was like huge because we don’t have those conversations in our community so I’m like this market you know is going to change more lives than we ever realized it’s going to do
now if you know if you have a problem if So everybody knows now if there’s something going on then go to the market because they are going to help you figure it our so I gotta thank Aetna
for that because they saw a vision in community that you know a lot of people
just don’t get they got it I don’t know who foresaw that but they they got it I’m hearing some similarities with with
our Red Hook Brooklyn well there there are some similarities where there are
some differences for sure I just want to note that I’m I’m an abolitionist I
don’t believe in the prison industrial complex that’s been you know erected in
this country and how it’s played out in neighborhoods of color so I just want to
frame my my thoughts around that and to be honest the work of Red Hook
initiative around violence anti violence work was led through a participatory
action research process that had young adults from the neighborhood leading the
research it was dedicated to a member of the neighborhood who was was killed and
a family member stepped in and you know family and friends came together and led
this research project you should look it’s it’s located on the website the Red
Hook initiative look it up it’s anti violence work and what it calls out is
it explicitly says that an investment to support to get around the disinvestment
in the neighborhood is necessary so the investment in public spaces the
investment in all the going against all the risk and protective factors are
going for the protective factors need to be looked at so those of you who are in
public health research you know about the protective factors well this this
research calls it out and says you need to invest in the public spaces you need
to invest in more programming you know investing basically a humane way of how a
neighborhood should look and what’s interesting about this is that of course
the public safety and policing community looks at it as a slap in the face he’s
saying you know don’t invest in in cops and then young people say no we don’t
need to invest in cops you know what the budget is for Red Hook it’s forty nine
million dollar budget you know for Public Safety and policing compared to
budget allocations it relates to youth development and as it relates to public
spaces all the public spaces are going to be gentrified so the youth see it
they’re not blind to it what ends up happening though is that the research
that we have now needs a next step and we’re working towards working on a
campaign that puts that research and puts it into action and puts it into the
policy and policymakers hands he really turns it
into systems change in policymaking we also have as an organization some farms
that are in the neighborhood so we have two farms one is a farm located in Red
Hook on Columbia Street if you ever go there it’s a huge acreage is like 2.75
acreage of a former concrete cement baseball field that was converted into a
neighborhood farm we also have a farm in the New York City Housing Development in
Red Hook our goal which also speaks to the anti violence work which makes sure these public
spaces are utilized for the New York City Housing residents but also that
every produce item that comes out of these farms get to the housing residents
first the public housing residents first this is not a glamour and glitz project
where the white central fires can come in and feel good about themselves which
usually happens a lot of these community farms this is actually a project that is
dedicated towards ensuring that those who do not have access to produce those
who have never seen a supermarket come back after Hurricane sandy are able to
go on a weekly basis and pick up fresh produce for the public housing residents
free on the grounds and then for those who have you know EBT access and
everything else we want to make sure that they have access to the larger form
so if you see the connection that the report calls out for the activation of
spaces the organization we have responded by making sure our farm work
speaks to that but also at the same time we’re not losing sight of the fact that
there are the public spaces and other disinvestments that have to be looked at
in order to rectify premature mortality which is something that is a big deal in
the neighborhood of Red Hook especially for African American men 14 to 22 years
old so living in these neighborhoods under these kinds of pressures you know
it generates something that’s commonly discussed now in the social determinants
realm which is toxic stress it’s it’s something that that Joia I mentioned I want to make one
more comment sure so we worked with our state and local representatives
to change the laws with our youth because there was a time when they were
arresting all of our kids and now they can’t do that oh louder I’m sorry I
said we worked with our state and local representatives to change the law for
our teenagers because there was a time when they were arresting all of our
youth so the law was changed a couple years ago and now they can’t do that and
I’m gonna tell you as a result of that it’s been quite challenging as to what
we do with that so me and a bunch of us we were like oh every time we turn
around our kids are getting arrested and they’re gonna have records and you know
it’s out of control and now we’re back at the table again
because no we don’t want our kids to have records and we don’t want them
arrested and now I want you to talk about it a little bit we have these same
15 and 16 year olds who are now caught with these guns and they pick them up they
can’t do anything with them so now they are wreaking havoc in our neighborhoods
so we go back to the table game with the chief with our state rep with our
senators and they’re looking at us like well you asked us to change the laws
what do you want us to do so now we’re back at the table you know trying to
figure out you know what do we do with these kids all over again because yes
there was a time when every time we turned around our kids are the ones
who are getting all the records like like like Red Hook which was which was cut off
Javi said by the BQE you know East End is cut off by i-95 so
it’s it’s a neighborhood that was that was access you know you could access
downtown Bridgeport from from from East End and you really can’t anymore without
going around and about and so you have these these cauldrons of
these kinds of frustrations and and I saw probably pick up her mic I know I
know Reverend Boyd probably would like to to weigh in on this too because I
know I know in Charlotte they’re dealing with similar kinds of issues so for me I
think it’s important for and I know the panelists will probably agree is that in
many of our neighborhoods the challenge of affordable housing has driven the
level of trauma and stress that people are experiencing personally and
collectively especially children and their behaviors and acting out in
schools and in communities to a different kind of level and we are I
think in many ways miss diagnosing it as them being just juvenile miss content
but when you move ten times in 18 months when you live in a car when the focus is
to get the sixty three dollars and 25 cents for the next day’s stay in an
extended stay motel you feel these stress of your parents so I’m happy to
be part of a coalition of partners that I think is the beginning of something
that can have a larger impact beyond chronic disease as I was sitting here
listening I’m thinking I grew up in a neighborhood my home was Memphis
Tennessee in a section called North Memphis and across from my elementary
school was sorry land field nobody I never heard of the word social
determinants to health back then I just thought it was okay as a
kid growing up from first to sixth grade play on the landfill many of the kids
that I went to school with got their clothes and bikes from what we call the
dump but today it’s called landfill I didn’t know it was toxins coming from
the landfill it’s now the Department of Transportation bus facility but I
realized that when my father came from the war in World War two and couldn’t
get a job and went to work at a major employer who was making and the African
Americans were making three times less than their white counterparts who had
been there longer that created a stress for him that he brought back to his
family that impacted all of us and forced him into he was a brilliant guy
brilliant man a loving father but he was stressed all the time I always wondered
why he was so stressed I didn’t know that when the wrecker came to pick up
his truck that it was because he didn’t make the payment and I didn’t know why
he was protesting in front of the bank that it was because the bank didn’t want
to give him a loan even though he had assets and our house although it wasn’t
worth much was paid for he had capital he had equity and so as
part of a coalition of pastors multi-denominational pastors coalition
with the hospital American Heart Association public health the YMCA we’ve
been able to move the needle on chronic disease I think the next area we must
look at is trauma that that that trauma is underneath there’s a family we
supported of a mother who had just been released from the hospital two young kids
joined our church and we sponsored her got her job got her a job clothes for
her family sponsored her for five months found her a place to live create a job
training she is not mentally able to care for herself or her children she
lives on the street she uses her children as part of the panhandling that
takes place that’s trauma she has other homeless women like her with children
now that she has moved in with her their everyday is just to get to sixty three
dollars and 25 cents to stay the next day in the extended stay motels many of
our people when I say our people people of color I’ve experienced a kind of
trouble trauma that Dr. Perry talked about that is not measured or talked
about even in them seeing their physicians
nor is it experienced as I have in my losing my position of the last 20 years
who took great care of me because I inherited from my father high blood
pressure and to no-fault her of her own the hospital brought in a young
Caucasian doctor and I said to her I’m taking a new medication that was given
to me by the pharmacist do you will it have any kind of different effect for me as an
African American male and her response to me was why are you asking me that I’m
not here for you to test me this is this was last month this was in
1960 this was last month and so I realize even today that there is a huge
chasm that exists in the cultural relevancy that exists in policy and
systems and changes and I know we talk about governments but governments are
not abstract entities they are made up of people who are elected and appointed
to serve the people that they were elected and appointed to serve and so
without the community and the community’s pressure in holding them
accountable and you say well I don’t have time to do that is where I come in
it’s where pastors and people who dedicate their lives to helping hold
community appointed and elected officials accountable and it has not
been easy even with Cheryl in her vision to say hey listen we can move the needle
on this in partnering with faith-based and other organizations coming to the
table and that was a great resistance this is the culmination of a ten year
long initiative that was just three
years ago decided to be piloted by the county to say okay well just go away take this it’s no gonna work and all of a sudden Edna comes along and stamps the work and it
blows up and now they want to trademark it no literally trademark it I think the
word I heard earlier was colonization I wrote that down but you can’t colonize what you don’t
understand and so it’s more than just a model drawn out on paper without an
understanding of the dynamics of relationships of how people are
connected and what connects people and how you relate to people it won’t work
without understanding the value of transparency without understanding the
in-retractable value of trust and being truthful and honest and open it’s not
gonna work because we are custom to governments lying or let me say misrepresenting the truth but believe it or not we can actually work together because as it was
said and I have to applaud our new health director give me Harris who has
come in and really tried to help Cheryl move this forward
I think caught in betwixt in between we all need to win we we all want to win we
want to help make the community better and we want you to do all that you can
you have access to things resources that we do not and we have access that you do
not and you’re just showing up doesn’t mean we’re gonna roll out
red carpet because historically your coming has not been genuine and
authentic and so you must come with that understanding and when that takes place
an open conversation can happen and we began to realize our unconscious biases
not that we don’t have them but we don’t acknowledge them and don’t see them but
when we acknowledge and see them then we can work through them individually as
individuals who have a shared interest I believe I must remain optimistic I I default to the faith factor that our faith is greater than any kind of obstacle
that we face and that we can solve all problems when we come together and that
sometimes it has to get really really bad for us to come together
unfortunately that’s a can I jump in here for a second
I was hoping you would yeah my issue actually in Flint
was the lack of police now I’m pretty sure everyone in here knows that when GM
left Flint Flint was left broke we could not afford the police that we had so
they were let go most of them were just gone and we were left basically to
defend ourselves and we had to deal with reality
police do not prevent crime they’re the one that comes in after something has
already happened so in order to prevent crime we as residents in our
neighborhoods had to step up and do something about it now Flint
neighborhood united started because of that and what we did was we started to
share what was going on around us and some of the neighbors in Flint had
already solved those issues so they would share with other residents this is what
we did in order to combat that particular type of crime now there is
this program that I’m not even sure where it came from but it was called
septic crime prevention through Environmental Design and so a lot of
residents started to take this workshop and one of our funders Ruth my
foundation they’re the ones that actually brought the people in the
organization in in order to teach residents and so residents started to
use this particular type of program on their own properties it is basically
where to put lighting around your homes or how to trim hedges so that people
can’t hide behind them so we can see what’s going on and a lot of people kind
of expanded that because there’s a lot of vacant land and vacant properties and
abandoned houses there’s some people who started putting these solar LED lights
I’m not sure if I’m saying it right on these vacant homes because when the
lights when the sun goes down it’s dark and even though there may be street
lights that all work on this block because of the abandoned properties it’s
more dark and so that’s one of the methods that people use in order to make
their environment safer and then there’s also we have a community tool shed and
what I tell people about the community tool shed it’s a place that you have to
actually go and see but they have zero turn mowers for residents to use because
of all this vacant land and the city does not have any money again in order
to maintain to cut grass grass at these vacant properties are cut twice a year
twice a year not good enough because people that were breaking into houses
was taking those things that they stole and putting it
into tall grass to come back and get later so residents are able to go to the
community tool shed learn how to use a zero-turn or the
community tool shed has a truck and a trailer that will deliver it to you
I myself every other Friday cut eight lots
I don’t do my own because my stepfather’s kind of picky but it it
helps it helps to be able to enjoy what you see from outside your window when
you look out your window and our community Land Bank Genesee County Land
Bank actually received hardest hit funds several years in a row in order to
demolish a lot of these properties we have some neighborhoods that complain
about that because they’re historic I live in a historic neighborhood that was
kind of opposite we wanted to see those buildings going because we knew that our
population the housing stock was based on two hundred thousand people we now
have less than one hundred thousand we did not see Flint coming back like that
anytime soon so a lot of those properties were demolished we’re happy
about that and then the remaining properties are still there there’s some
resident groups that have started to purchase those properties and put them
back into commission that we have they call returning citizens people are
coming back from prisons they are learning how to put those houses back
together so they’re getting a trade they’re learning how to do these things
that we need we need these houses put back and then they are able to actually
purchase those houses for their families so all of this is just a step in that
right direction for crime prevent prevention because we love our police we
love them dearly we need them but they need us too
this is basically team work and we have a lot of residents
that’s so desperate for a better quality of life that they’re willing to work
together I don’t know how to follow this I’m kind of speechless these these stories I guess one thing I can say just you know from the perspective of a journalist we
spent so much time writing about problems that are out there and one of
the things that that we’re trying to focus on more and we’re doing this at US
news and there are other news organizations around the world that are
focusing on this as well but it’s it’s this notion of solutions journalism that
there are people out there who are trying to fix things and there are
credible stories I mean the stories we’re hearing today and those these
stories need to be told they need to be heard people need to you know to factor
them into their their notions about what’s happening in these communities
that that are you know off the grid from you know for most policymakers places
like Red Hook and East End and and I’m sure corners of Charlotte you know where
people don’t go they’re not seen they’re just off the grid and you know stories
like these can can put them back on the grid one other thing that I just wanted
to bring up because I was so struck by it I mean I’m I’m learning a lot of
history here today and you know in previous weeks and in learning in
previous years really you know learning about about the causes of these problems
that we’re discussing and and you know redlining is is a term that’s on
everybody’s tongue it’s a it’s it’s still with us and so when I started
seeing stories in newspapers and brought one from the post here about ad
practices that have been adopted by the social media giants that HUD is now reviewing
because they play a role in housing discrimination
you know that redlining you know one point was was sort of a banking issue
the banks responded to some degree with the Federal Fairness and Lending Act the
the federal reserve banks are very much involved in in investment and Fairless
fairness and lending practices and what do we you know and we get a new story
like this one published on March 28th the Department of Housing and Urban
Development so we’re now you know back in talking about housing alerted Twitter
and Google asked you that scrutinizing their practices for possible housing
discrimination a sign that more technology companies could be ensnared
in a government probe of their lucrative demographic ad targeting tools and they
were I think Facebook was also kind of ensnared in this as well so it’s just a
sign that that this is not you know disappearing in our the mists of history
so let me yeah absolutely and I was going to say if you would like to just
lead the audience discussion
okay that would be great this has been so amazing y’all are all so awesome I have to say I love
doing these talks because I also learned stuff so I’m gonna start stealing a lot
of y’all’s language so if you hear it again I try to quote you I try to
say i got this from Javier you know just know what’s in my spirit to say if i
don’t see it um so I just want to reflect a little bit on what I heard and
how it ties to the earlier things that I said and then honestly this article that
you just brought it up it’s really a great segue because if you think about
Ibram’s book and you think about how racist ideas just move they don’t go
away we have not dealt with the racism and so the new way and so somebody said
to me that we were calling housing discrimination they would call this soft
discrimination they would say right so but I would imagine that when we went
from slavery to Jim Crow that was soft discrimination right it’s still
discrimination none of us want to go back to Jim Crow okay all right so the
new evolution of redlining right the the ability for federal policy to create
neighborhoods based upon race and disinvest and communities of color for decades that was not just banks that just decided to do it it was federal government plans just like Tuskegee Institute I mean Tuskegee Experiment was the
federal government that did that is these are not just things that happened to
haphazardly and they were doing it because they wanted to prove that black
men were more impacted by their brains were impacted by syphilis than white
men’s hearts were because they were still trying to prove a biological
difference of race okay so that is why I probably spend most of my talks trying
to unpack for you that belief because we’re not gonna get anywhere until you
stop doing that do we stop doing it because we come up with solutions face
if I’m believing that people of color are broken so the Liberatore idea that
we can do today is have imagined close your eyes and imagine that if when this
country was founded we didn’t believe it the only people had value well were land
owning because it’s a white men who are really getting jacked up from racism
some land owning white men okay imagine that that wasn’t who we only valued that
we didn’t make every policy every decision for land owning white men how
Liberatore so even the difference between how we view policing they had
three different conversations about policing all of them embedded in this
idea of we haven’t come up with what would we have created what would we have
done so I think they all have value but we need to start sitting and thinking
with ourselves what would we really do as a country if we valued every
ethnicity if you valued every religion if we
valued women what would we build so that is my reflection now we are going to
open up to the audience for questions and I don’t know how we get the web
questions as well yes so they have mics in the middle come to the mic I know
y’all are not quiet y’all seem really somebody there is always somebody who
starts no one person is starting no we have a web question to do while we’re
doing what about Twitter I know Twitter has been popping social media is popping I
won’t make my mommy or my godchild get up inaudible via webcam the livestream that please
send your questions and we’ll get them up to the to the panelists there two
the first one is for you doctor and it was it’s a very good it’s a
clinical question are there forms of medicinal birth control that do not work
as effectively with obese women so the truth is even when the the pill the
standard of birth control pill the more you weigh the less effective it is and
so we’re supposed to counsel patients over a certain weight and I don’t want to
misspeak because depends on the pill that you are on that you’re supposed to know that you probably might need a backup method so um the ones that are
working without think of it as the pill has to go through your entire body
versus if you have something that’s inserted inside of you like an IUD or
you have your tubes tied those things are less impacted by your weight so we
had to decrease in the beginning when the birth control pill was created it
had a lot of estrogen in it and so people were having strokes and having
different things happen to them so we decreased the amount of estrogen so that
people can live and not have effects from so much estrogen but that also has
been balanced out by now your body has to metabolize it so the more that you
weigh the less effective it’s going to be and how the pill how birth control
works is that you don’t have an egg come out of your ovary I’m trying to use really
lay words because I realize I sometimes use doctory words and it doesn’t work
very well so your ovaries have eggs and the pill makes them not come the egg
doesn’t come out each month and so we if you’re we’re trying to control for that
cycle that requires adjusting for weight I hope that answered the question thank
you and then there’s a question for the entire panel and that is how can
non-traditional students connect public health health entities if they don’t have the
experience but they want to engage in the work that you’re doing at the
community level in Flint we have AmeriCorps workers and
they are saturated throughout our community so all they would have to do
is get with a particular organization that they’re interested in volunteering
for because AmeriCorps workers are basically volunteers they do receive a
stipend but it’s not quite minimum wage so if they’re interested that’s the
route to take in Flint since it’s a question that really germane to every
neighborhood across the United States I would just say you know you can go to
any non-for-profit social service faith-based organization you can
volunteer like it’s not that hard I think a lot of students are thinking
they have to be found now we’re busy so come check us you know come out go to
your neighborhood understand the areas if you’re an epidemiologist a
surveillance person by training you can look at the data then you can find an
organization that’s trying to address that data in that neighborhood Can I ask a question Pastor Boyd let me just ask you one of the things that that characterizes your work and and Cheryl’s work in in
Mecklenburg County is that that there are many faith-based communities of many kinds and you really are creating a you know multi multi community multi
faith-based effort to tackle some of these problems could you talk a little
bit about how that works what the kinds of relationships you’re building and and
how it plays out in the different communities so for me again it always
goes back to relationships and I need to understand and agree with our goal the
end goal because I think if we can agree on an end goal it will allow us to get past our differences and so that then allows for
in the faith-based vernacular multi-denominationalism
where we are not divided on the differences of our doctrine but united
on the end goal and so our end goal here was to make a difference in our
congregations and when we say congregations that term is universal not
just to represent our individual congregations but our congregations
which also include our communities and that is with this coalition Aetna has
recognized that with the partnership of public health in which governments are
pretty tested sometimes in their unwillingness to partner directly with
faith-based organizations they will do with non-for-profit or CDC’s but not with
faith-based this is a unique partnership in that the government has partnered
with a faith-based with faith-based organizations where we started off I
think with seven Cheryl seven churches and now are up to 60 along with Novant
Hospital in Charlotte American Heart Association the YMCA UNCC Johnson C
Smith so this coalition of partners are working and have had tremendous success
on driving the needle on chronic diseases those diseases that impact
African Americans and people of color most hypertension diabetes and heart
disease which can be effected through which is from a faith-based perspective
the most difficult to change is behavior even when we want to change
it’s difficult but when you have the right kind of support
and competition breeds a kind of energy and excitement and participation that
even in my knowing that I need to get up and walk does not for me
so the coalition the building of the coalition that has come together around
this and being able to put together resources Cheryl is the brain trust behind
this and it has it has brought together a kind of partnership that no one saw or
thought possible thank you for that good afternoon everybody my name is (inaudible) I represent Women Heart we’re a non-for-profit I work with women who have heart disease issues so I wanna ask Reverend Boyd do you think the potential for utilizing churches as a way to reach minority populations of
people do you think that it is a template to be implemented on a larger in other states as well? yes so I think the question is could faith-based the template of using faith-based organizations as a way in which an avenue for addressing women’s
heart health issues absolutely as long as the initiators understand that it’s
about building the relationship not about the relationship with the building
but going through the pastor who has a need to embrace legitimate opportunities
for trying to address situations that have adversely affected people in our
congregations now keep in mind we too are gatekeepers of our
congregation because people have poached from our people and our congregations so
often and for so long and oftentimes pastors have been used as a ploy and
continue to be used as a ploy as validation for things that governments
want to do to say the church has has tacitly approved this and laid hands on
it so it must be okay but in fact that has not been the case and so we’re even
careful about showing up at certain events because the next time we look up
our name is attached as a branding to something that we had no idea was even
taking place so you have to build the relationship you have to spend time with
the pastor you have to be open and forthright about what your intentions
are and be willing to to show the lengths at which you which you are committed to
to seeing it through if you’re asking that church or denomination to partner
with you because a lot is at stake I was thinking about you mentioned public so this was made me think of the importance of us at this moment because for the
APHA for National Public Health Week to start with grassroots for public health
week says a lot and because public implies something different from
grassroots right so thinking about how we can the challenges that you’ve had
working with government or with pub the public part of Public Health and what
kind of wisdom can we provide for our audience or what kind of things what
would be liberal Liberatore right how could we use
grassroots at this moment for Public Health
and what advice would you give and and/or what are some lessons or what are
the challenges I would say Javier you know I’m a bug you come on what you got
so I’m gonna think through how Dr. Perry you know gave an example of how
positioning grassroots organizations to be the primary
or small a small organization to primary recipient of funding is the way
to go and I’m what I what I mean by that is no public health public institution
to receive all the funding from the CDC or HHS or anything like that because
what it does is it puts all of us on this panel in that role that the
Pastor just recognized as co-signing and saying that this initiative makes sense
we got fifty thousand dollars we can barely do what we can with this but the
majority of the money sits there so all of you in the audience who ends up
working at a public health institution in your state or your county in your
city push back against the BS where it’s like we got to be the lead organization
that would help tremendously the grassroots not-for-profit groups not the
non-for-profit industrial complexes that are big you’ll know you’ll see them
right away I’m not gonna name them because because they they exist but they
exist but the ones that that that are that are there in your neighborhood
doing the work are the the epidemiologists of the neighborhood of
the street like those are the folks to fund so that’s how you can help coming
out of your programs are coming out as conferences like we’re not gonna be the
lead recipient you know Flint neighborhood and United is gonna be the
lead that’s that’s a help on the other side from the grassroots side is also
saying you can’t be everything too – right you know I’m in the process right now
working with my initiative working with the Red Hook Initiative and understanding
like what are we great at we’re great at youth development work that has impact
on families okay stop right like we can’t do everything in that neighborhood
because we’re chasing that money we’re chasing the funding so like we’re
mission veering and mission creeping and all that so if there was an agreement
that we can stay focused on eradicating a certain public health initiative area
of focus in a neighborhood Public Health Department you got a role academic
institution you got a role grassroots non-for-profit we’re the lead that which
that would be a game-changer for all the big cities specifically that have more
resources coming in for the smaller just folks I get it I got a good education
how hard that is because you have really scrambling against everyone but still
like trying to get that agreement between academia public health
institutions and grassroots that will go a long way of changing the power
dynamics that were explained by Dr. Perry earlier
if I can ask one other
Did you want to add something inaudible but when you’re trained well you understand that you have to take the risk and I think that’s been unique with Village Heartbeat is that the village is about us taking
care of one another that beat stands for something it’s the
building the education and accountability together so I’ve been working in a
system that sometimes I can see being as agitator because I’m teaching them what
the loopholes are so when you look at the model there’s two overarching pieces
one is something about competition that challenges us and motivate us so that’s
the piece that took off but the other piece has been the bowl part that’s the
building the opportunity the leadership and the development every public health
system every County moves money because we’re taxpayers so once I began to
understand what the system was we’re now teaching them how to come in and that
procurement process but I had to leave from where I am because those of us that
work in the system we’ve been trained with the knowledge but what we don’t do
enough is teach that knowledge back to our communities and it has to be more of
us and I tell them what I love about faith being with the pastors is my own
personal faith but also understand risk comes and you have to pray if you go to
working systems see all of these faith- based last week we had a training with
government because some of them were easy to get into the system and now it’s
a little bit tricky how they’re getting into it
different questions a new system so we requested for a whole training just for
all constituents cuz I’ve said it now now that we’re born to money you’re
gonna see many more of them coming in because they’re entitled to being a part
of the that platform but that’s the challenge that I think those of us have
been trained in public health we have to do a better job leading from inside to
outside of communities now I just wanted the risk part so we spent a energy reframing how we talk about risk because for me it’s riskier for you to
not value community so when I’m investing in a organization because I
get I have a weird life where I sometimes I’m a grantor right I sit on
on boards and I’m giving out money and in that space I can hear how we talk
about grassroots organizations and oh it’s risky it’s risky you should be more
worried that you’re about to spend these millions of dollars and you will have no
actual change in the community so that should be your first risk flag not if
they have a mission and vision statement and they’ve had three years of
financials that anyway go ahead sorry question for you Lindsey Mason thank you so much for this panel I’m very curious just because I one commend Aetna for being really a pioneer in
really convening but I heard the Kellogg Foundation of her Robert Wood Johnson
how do you see philanthropy playing a role in this public-private partnership
to really advance that change and really drive some of the impact on the local
level yeah I’ll pause there I have a lot of
questions but I think that this is very fascinating okay in Flint we have CS Mott Foundation they’re funding me in order to get the message out to people they are not just them but we also have Ruth my Foundation Hagerman Foundation Kellogg Foundation is in
Flint well they have some funding in Flint and a lot of them you will find
that within their organizations the ones that Community Foundation also they have
residents grassroots residents that’s in there doing work pushing for change
making things happen I cannot I mean I’m so proud I’m so proud of what is
happening in the city all over the city we have some we have we have a Mission School for the Deaf for instance we have the largest population of
hearing-impaired people in our city and when the water
crisis first hit they knew nothing about it until some of the people that work in
the non-profits and for the funders reached out to them reached out to some
of the translators in order to get the message to them and it made a world of
difference we also have a large Hispanic population same thing with them we they
were too afraid to go for the services that they need they wouldn’t even go get
bottled water when they needed so we had to we had someone that reached out to
someone that spoke fluent Spanish to start working at these water locations
so that they would be able to communicate with their people so
philanthropy in Flint I was asked to sit on the board of Community Foundation and
it was done so that our voice would be heard and it’s not just me but there’s
other residents that’s doing the same thing first we’re almost at time but
there’s a book by a brother named Edgar so in my mind we hear not hang out I’ve
met him twice but in my mind were afraid like even when I met him three times
that he’s like my best friend yet so um it’s called to Decolonize Philanthropy and
it really has a whole framework around what this could look like like the
beauty of working inside his face there’s three prongs you know government
philanthropy and private community how do we make all three work better it’s
really what I try to spend my life and existence doing and so yes there is a
move for that we are we are very close to time and and I just want to thank all
of the panelists for all of all of their insights and and this has just been an
incredible conversation it’s really been a privilege for me to be part of it
there are so many things we haven’t discussed we haven’t you know there’s so
many issues relating to youth and multi-generational challenges that we we face poverty I mean you name it there’s there’s a lot we could talk about but I
just want to thank the panelists ask if there are any any last comments I just want to just like it’s a for everybody who pays attention to social media specifically
you know black Twitter or you know people of color just look at the brother
Nipsey Hussell was shot and killed yesterday it’s really important for for
people in the room and people online to understand the impact that people are
feeling right now especially people who call especially you know the
African American community on what the brother was trying to do out in Los
Angeles by you know you know investing in co-working space and university
investing in STEM education when you talk about the social determinants of
health he talked about the drivers of what happens that that he was pushing
against the drivers in that neighborhood you know so like whoever picks up the
movement that he is was starting as a leader in the music industry but also as
a black man I think it’s important for everybody in the room and everybody
online to just take a moment to pause and think about that because there are
young people in your neighborhood who are gonna be feeling like you know lost
and feeling like somebody from their generation is gone was taken from them
and he was trying to educate them on multiple levels so I leave with that
because I think it’s a social media was brought up before about how harmful it
is as it relates to redlining but this is also a moment of like showing
especially those who consider themselves allies in the room or online to
understand some of the people that are are are lost to the black community that we’re trying to really empower and move the the narrative in the conversation
in the positive direction a Deborah so I want to thank everybody for
joining us today I want you to encourage your brothers and sisters who are out
there in a fight and the struggles in the community to encourage them never to
give up I mean our project was a three years struggle but every day when we
walk into that market it just you know it’s it’s amazing the lives that we’re gonna change so I was thinking about what you said doctor bout
a you got to worry about you know what you’re gonna do so we don’t worry about
that cuz we’re doing it already we’re changing laws because we’re gonna make
life better for everybody there but I want everybody to stay encouraged and we
appreciate the time and effort everybody put into this program today thank you very much and and Pastor Boyd we remain encouraged we work really hard
to keep our young people encouraged I often times say that many of the
successes of people of color especially African Americans were achieved during a
generation in time where they had far less but did far more the Scriptures
talk about each generation growing weaker while at the same time becoming
wiser I think we have become wiser in many ways but weaker in many ways and
part of that is our miss missing the mark in valuing the component of faith
your ability to believe that you can whether or you can’t is true whichever
one you choose and so we believe that you can in spite of where you live or
whether you have an address or whether you took a shower today before you went
to school we believe you can learn we believe you can succeed we believe you
will succeed we believe that we will overcome many of the challenges that
continue to pop up and the struggle makes us stronger and I’m grateful to be
here today with all of you thank you thank you
Carma last words Thank you for having me here I do appreciate it
and my last words is I would like to tell everyone be nosy find out what’s
going on it’s your community it’s yours it belongs to you act like it
alright thank you all inaudible some of the things we learned today um I
think that you’re right policy big P little P is critical in all of this
discussion and we know communities know their needs best and we in the public
health community must learn to do a better job of following we’re at the
beginning of a time of change but we’re also several generations of actually seeing
this change come to fruition which means we are in a lifelong fight and we have
to take this battle to address social determinants of health the
misrepresentation of truth and the racism that exists in our policies
programs and with us as individuals in our government in our healthcare systems
and yes among those of us in the public health community and we need to do all
we can to take this to understand it to address the health disparities and
inequities that exists in our communities I want to thank you again to
the Aetna Foundation for their support I want to thank our panelists I think this
was an outstanding and fascinating conversation so thank you Pastor Boyd
Carma Javi Debbie our moderator Steve Dr. Crear-Perry Dr. Pam Aaltonen and
thank you to all of you who came today to those of you who are participating
via the live web stream I think that we’ve begun the conversation and there’s
much more that we can do now go out there recognize your own implicit biases
address people as people and help our communities thrive
we have food outside so please join us in a reception continue the conversation
start those relationships start creating communities across communities and again
thank you all very very much it was an outstanding outstanding start
to our National Public Health Week

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