NCBA Tackles Environmental Racism & Healthcare Disparities

Feb 1, 2024 | Enviromental Justice, Healthcare, News

On Saturday, January 20, 2024, the North Carolina Black Alliance held its second annual Grounded in Justice, Rooted in Wellness Environmental Justice and Healthcare Summit. Held at the historic Franklinton Center at Bricks in Whitakers, NC, the event gathered environmental justice and healthcare advocates from near and far to deepen our collective understanding of the intersection of environmental justice and healthcare. Juxtaposed with the legacy of the Franklinton Center at Bricks and the purpose of the Summit to give voice to important issues that too often go unheard, collectively, we were able to reclaim a historical space to mobilize voters for the year ahead.

Setting the Stage: History, Legacy, and Collective Understanding

The Summit began with a coffee chat featuring the Honorable Floyd McKissick and NCBA Deputy Director Marcus Bass. The chat highlighted the significance of Soul City and framed how we understand environmental justice and healthcare today. After grounding the audience in the history of environmental justice in North Carolina, the Environmental Justice and Access to Healthcare teams engaged the audience in a Listen & Learn session that examined current environmental justice and healthcare disparities in Nash County. This activity reminded attendees of the legacy of redlining in shaping resource distribution in our communities and deepened their understanding of how the two issue areas intersect.

Marcus Bass and Floyd McKissick Jr.

Community, Faith, and the Path Towards Equity

We featured two panel discussions in the afternoon on Community and Faith and The Pathway Towards Equitable Environmental and Healthcare Policy. The Community & Faith panel emphasized the role of Black faith leaders and grassroots organizations in mobilizing communities to resources that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Panelists shared examples of where Black faith leadership was instrumental in supporting wellness in Black communities. The Policy Panel examined the current Environmental Justice and Healthcare political landscape in North Carolina. While we still have ground to cover until we achieve equitable policies, panelists shed light on the potential of policies to transform maternal, child, and environmental health outcomes for Black communities.

A Call to Action: Building Thriving Communities

As a call to action, our keynote speaker, Surabhi Shah, Senior Advisor for Cumulative Impacts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, shared a Hindi principle called Bohni to highlight the impact the Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (TCTACs) can have on our communities. Bohni means “the first customer’s transaction establishes the business owners’ luck for the day.” She shared this principle to encourage community-based organizations in the audience to be the first to engage with their regional TCTAC to build capacity for their organizations and to foster thriving communities to change the paradigm for addressing environmental injustices in Black and Brown communities.

Surabhi Shah, Senior Advisor for Cumulative Impacts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

Our work continues as we aim to build a better, more equitable future for all. By deepening our collective understanding of environmental justice and healthcare, we all play a vital role in helping our communities be Grounded in Justice and Rooted in Wellness.

Karida Giddings

Karida Giddings

Access to Healthcare Coordinator

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