Community of Practice:

Addressing Racial Inequities in Health Care

Our Community of Practice on Homelessness brings together 100+ community, institutional and corporate leaders to build alliances and discover new tools to end homelessness and address racial health disparities.

Part 1 | Part 2


Topic 1

Part 1 - Addressing Racial Inequities in Health Care Amid Emergencies and Disasters

With panelists:

  • The Honorable John Olszewski, Jr. – Baltimore County Executive
  • Rev. S. Todd Yeary, JD, PhD – Senior Pastor, Douglas Memorial Community Church; Senior VP & Chief of Global Policy, Rainbow Push Coalition
  • Lisa Cooper, MD, MPH, FACP – Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity; Director, Urban Health Institute


Together, we explored these questions 

  • Within your field, why is racism so uncomfortable to discuss, confront, and address?
  • In order for us to move forward, it is clear that we need to examine our everyday practices, systems and policies. Can you tell us about what YOU are seeing and YOUR analysis of racial inequities and disparities for distressed populations of color (especially those experiencing homelessness) in the time of COVID-19?
  • Through your professional lens, what should you and others in your field be doing DIFFERENTLY now to address structural racism and racial inequities exacerbated in the time of COVID-19?

From our panelists

"Discussing racism means we need to address and change the way we do things. Having intentional conversation forces us to move forward by examining our practices -  both personally and professionally."  - The Honerable John Olszewski, Jr.

“As physicians, we take an oath at the beginning to do no harm and lessen harm. If we are going to talk about racism, we need to admit to ourselves as physicians the harm and the racism we cause. We are afraid to open up wounds that other people have experienced. And we feel helpless. We have to listen. We have to come along side of people even if we don't have a solution to it in that moment.” - Dr. Lisa Cooper

"People are dying in real time because we’re not willing to deal with the issue of systems being skewed to those who have...The conversation is supposed to be uncomfortable. We arrived here by the very things that ought make us cringe; red-lining started in Baltimore! ...We have to confront a big issue: White shame – not wanting to talk about it. And Black humiliation on the other hand." - Rev. Dr. Todd Yeary



Part 2 - Where do we go from here? Addressing Racial Inequities in Health Care in the RECOVERY Stage of COVID-19

A conversation with:

  • The Honorable Calvin Ball, III, EdD - Howard County Executive
  • Randi Woods, MS, MBA, RN Senior Director of Community Care Coordination, Sisters Together and Reaching (STAR)
  • Rev. S. Todd Yeary, JD, PhD – Senior Pastor, Douglas Memorial Community Church; Senior VP & Chief of Global Policy, Rainbow Push Coalition
  • Kevin Lindamood - President and CEO, Health Care for the Homeless

Together, we explored these questions 

  • The disparities that Frederick Douglass outlined in his landmark speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" parallel those today, almost 170 years later. What hope lies in changing them now if we haven't done so by now?
  • What is voicelessness and powerlessness? And how can institutions and communities create platforms for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) voices to be heard and to access power? 
  • What are the challenges of leading the effort to address racial disparities and homelessness?
  • How are white-led "progressive" human services institutions and organizations perpetuating racial inequities? 
  • What does "defund the police" and "deconstruct the system" mean and why are these actions deemed necessary in the quest to achieve racial equity, especially in the recovery stages of COVID-19?
  • How has racism become sensationalized and what is at stake when the sensationalism is over?

From the panelists

"How are we showing up to sit at the table? We procrastinate on ideas because they make us feel uncomfortable. And when we choose not to hear what people way, we're saying back to them, 'I don't see you. You have no influence.'" - Randi Woods, MS, MBA, RN

"I’m tired of hearing folks say there is white fatigue. Let’s trade places and I’ll let you walk a little bit in the experience of a Black man in America, and I’ll walk in the privilege that many of our white wanna-be allies have. If we’re gonna have some real allies, don’t come to the table with excuses."  - Rev. Dr. Todd Yeary

"We need to advocate for more investment in the things that will dismantle what COVID-19 has revealed in who is getting sick and dying. Advocating for investment in comorbidities – like diabetes, hypertension. Not just saying “that’s really sad” but putting funding in them." - The Honerable Dr. Calvin Ball III

Tangible resources and next steps

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