JOINT CONGRESSIONAL RACIAL EQUITY BRIEFING EMPHASIZED THE NEED FOR POLICY CHANGES AND UNITY IN SEEKING TO ENACT IMPACTFUL SYSTEMIC REFORMS

Dr. Gail C. Christopher and Marcus Hunter, UCLA sociology professor.
Dr. Gail C. Christopher and Marcus Hunter, UCLA sociology professor.

JOINT CONGRESSIONAL RACIAL EQUITY BRIEFING EMPHASIZED THE NEED FOR POLICY CHANGES AND UNITY IN SEEKING TO ENACT IMPACTFUL SYSTEMIC REFORMS

WASHINGTON – The National Collaborative for Health Equity (NCHE) called the Joint Congressional Racial Equity Briefing “a significant event,” bringing together leaders, experts, and activists to discuss pressing issues regarding racial equity in the United States.

The briefing was organized by Congress members from the House of Representatives and the Senate to address systemic racism and promote racial justice in all areas of society. Held on Wednesday, December 29, the briefing covered a wide range of topics related to racial equity, including education, healthcare, criminal justice reform, economic opportunity, and political representation. Attendees heard from various speakers who shared their expertise and personal experiences on these issues.

The event also provided a platform for open discussions and conversations on moving towards a more equitable and inclusive society. Dr. Gail C. Christopher, NCHE’s executive director, who attended the briefing, said a highlight of the discussion was the recognition of the role that systemic racism plays in perpetuating inequalities and creating barriers for marginalized communities.
She said the briefing cited the need for unity among advocates to succeed at facilitating healing and ending racism.

“The speakers emphasized the need for policy changes and systemic reforms to address these issues effectively,” said Dr. Christopher, who, as a Vice President and Senior Advisor at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, led the launching of the National Day of Racial Healing, as well as the America Healing and Truth Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) initiatives.

“The briefing was an important step towards building awareness and sustaining and initiating meaningful actions on issues of racial equity in Congress,” Dr. Christopher said after the event. “It also served as a reminder that the fight for racial justice is ongoing and requires continuous efforts and commitment from all members of society. This briefing is a critical milestone in the journey towards a more just and equitable future for all Americans.” Dr. Marcus Anthony Hunter, the Scott Waugh Endowed Chair in the Division of the Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at UCLA, helped organize the event and served as moderator for the discussion.

The briefing also highlighted the role of government and policy in addressing racial inequities. It called for lawmakers to prioritize and implement policies that promote diversity, inclusion, and equity in all aspects of society.

The lawmakers present included Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-12), Rep. Cori Bush (MO-1), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Rep. Jamie Raskin (MD-8), and Sen. Cory Booker (NJ). In addition to Dr. Christopher, other participants included Dr. David J. Johns, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition; Professor Marcus Anthony Hunter, Author, Radical Reparations: Healing the Soul of a Nation (HarperCollins/Amistad 2024); Willie “Prophet” Stiggers, CEO & President, Black Music Action Coalition; Dreisen Heath, Founder, Why We Can’t Wait National Reparations Coalition; and Rev. Adam Taylor, President, Sojourners. Reps. Lee, Jackson Lee, Bush, Bowman, and Raskin, along with Sen. Booker, have introduced legislation in the 118th Congress to address racial inequality as a bipartisan effort by addressing and remedying historical and systemic inequities.

Their legislation includes:
• Senator Cory Booker: S.Con. Res. 19 – Urging the Establishment of a United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT); S.Con. Res 40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.
• Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee: H.R.40 – Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act.
• Rep. Barbara Lee: H.Con.Res.44 – Urging the Establishment of a United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT); H.Res.532 – Third Reconstruction: Fully Addressing Poverty and Low Wages from the Bottom Up.
• Rep. Cori Bush: H.Res.414 – Reparations Now Resolution.
• Rep. Jamaal Bowman & Hank Johnson: H.R. 2952 – Restoring Artistic Protection (RAP) Act of 2023.

The Joint Congressional Racial Equity Briefing also served as a call to action for lawmakers, organizations, and individuals to actively work towards dismantling systems of oppression and promoting racial equity. It highlighted the importance of working together towards a common goal of achieving true equality for all. “Now is the time for change,” said Dr. Christopher. “All Americans need to come together and work toward a future where racial equity is a reality.”

Further, Dr. Christopher noted that recent polling by NCHE demonstrated that a majority of Americans want to put racism and divisiveness behind them and move forward. Despite pessimism over disunity, nearly 70 percent of Americans polled by the Benenson Strategy Group are hopeful we can find common ground. More specifically, the poll found:
➢ 8 in 10 respondents, including 3 in 4 Republicans, believe diversity should be promoted in the workplace so people of all races are working together, and educating our children on the history of race and racism in America is an essential first step for our nation to begin the process of racial healing.
➢ Americans across the political spectrum, including 3 in 4 Republicans, say educating our children on the history of racism and promoting diversity in the workplace is essential for racial healing.
➢ 88% of respondents would support a leader who aims to unite everyone in our country, even when people have disagreements, and 47% strongly agree. “Most Americans want to continue with the progress made toward achieving racial equity,” Dr. Christopher said. “This sentiment contrasts sharply with the Supreme Court ruling restricting affirmative action in education and related legislative and executive actions in state governments to ban books and narrowing the opportunities for people of color to vote. Regardless of their political party, Americans want a country that runs efficiently and is fair to all its citizens.”

About NCHE 
 Founded in 2014, NCHE was established to promote health equity through action, leadership, inclusion, and collaboration. We work to create environments that foster the best possible health outcomes for all populations, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or nativity. NCHE also works to improve conditions for health and well-being, including housing, education, income and wealth, and the physical and social environment. Further, it is imperative that we address historical and contemporary structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism, which fuels inequities in our society.

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