Keeping the Momentum Going Around Health Equity.
It’s been seven months since COVID-19 hit the U.S. Four months since George Floyd was murdered and protests hit the streets. Two since just one of the three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in her home was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment. As the pandemic has raged on and the public’s attention has turned to the now vacant Supreme Court seat, the upcoming presidential election, and the outbreak of COVID-19 in the White House, conversations surrounding systemic racism have faded into the background. This shift in attention is unsurprising given the pace of news in 2020, but the on-the-ground realities of racism’s pernicious impacts have not changed, particularly in healthcare. It’s been reported time and again that the pandemic is disproportionately negatively affecting communities of color. Black, Latinx, and Indigenous Americans are dying from this virus at far higher rates than their white counterparts, highlighting long-standing racial disparities in care and health outcomes. The need to fight for health equity is stronger than ever. But how can organizations continue this fight? Know your audience When it comes to issues affecting communities of color, there is no better advocate than a member of that community. If you or a member of your staff is not a member of that community, you need to partner up. Reach out to local civic engagement organizations, clients, and your personal network to bring in a voice that can directly speak to the community and its interests. Engaging diverse voices in your communications strategy will be the best way to develop an effective message and mobilize underrepresented communities. Know your facts If you or your awareness partner are not experts in the research that has been done on the impact of COVID-19 (or any disease) on communities of color, health equity, and systemic racism in general, then it’s time to study up. The CDC’s website, the Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project, and countless studies and papers offer valuable insights into the health inequities among COVID-19 patients. Take these insights and make them easy to access and understand. Articulate why your audience should care about health equity, and how it affects them. Know your next steps Advocacy is often a marathon, not a sprint. Before sitting down to write that op-ed or blog post, take some time to consider how far-reaching your efforts could be. How else can you contribute to the conversation and what does success look like? What types and channels of communication work best for your audience, and how often should you communicate with them? These are just some of the questions you should consider when deciding to advocate on behalf of minority communities. All of your communications materials have to include a call to action. Where can your audience find more information? What more can they expect from you? What steps can they themselves take next? Where is the need most urgent? Providing the answers to these questions can continue moving the conversation about the importance of health equity forward, and position you as an ally in the fight.