UB, Buffalo Center for Health Equity host public forum on racial equity and anti-racism

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A live, online public forum on “racial equity and anti-racism will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. July 14. The forum is being organized by the Community Health Equity Research Institute of the University at Buffalo and the Buffalo Center for Health Equity.

Register in advance for the July 14 event via Zoom at https://buffalo.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAldOyvrjsvHNFhX_vdebaJQsbwSreGmwXa.

Davarian L. Baldwin, Ph.D., a leading scholar and social theorist of urban America, will present a talk titled “Inequality is a Comorbidity: Mapping the Structures of Racial Disparity in Today’s Crisis Cities.”

A Distinguished Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Smart Cities Research Lab at Trinity College in Hartford, Baldwin studies global cities, especially diverse and marginalized communities that struggle to maintain sustainable lives in urban areas. Baldwin is currently working on two projects: Land of Darkness: Chicago and the Making of Race in Modern America and universities: How Higher Education is Transforming Urban America.

Tim Murphy, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, director of the UB Community Health Equity Research Institute and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, will make introductory remarks.

A panel discussion and open question-and-answer session will follow Baldwin’s talk.

‘The importance of being anti-racist’

“This is a hot topic,” said Rev. George F. Nicholas, convener of the African American Health Equity Task Force, chair of the Buffalo Center for Health Equity and pastor, Lincoln Memorial United Methodist Church in Buffalo, who will be on the panel. “We were trying to get someone who would really talk about the difference and importance of being anti-racist as opposed to just claiming you’re not a racist yourself and why that’s so important in bringing real change.”

Nicholas said that Baldwin’s focus on cities is especially relevant in the wake of the social upheavals of the pandemic and the global protests that followed the killing of George Floyd.

“The inequities of systematic racism are right there in your face in American cities,” he said. “You can see it from the dysfunctional school systems to the substandard housing to how peoples’ insurance rates are higher, the undervaluing of property and the over-policing of Black and brown people by people who don’t even live in these communities and are white and basically come in and create a lot of chaos.”

At the same time, he said COVID-19 has exposed the connection between systemic racism and health disparities.

Wake-up call

“COVID-19 clearly shows what happens if we don’t address the social determinants of health that come from systemic racism and that have caused people to suffer and die in much greater numbers,” he said. “COVID-19 has been a wake-up call.”

Against this backdrop, Nicholas said that it is appropriate that the forum is being sponsored by UB’s Community Health Equity Research Institute with the Buffalo Center for Health Equity.

“The university is the appropriate venue to have that conversation with Dr. Baldwin,” he said. “The work we’ve done with the Buffalo Center for Health Equity, the African American Health Equity Task Force and the institute at UB clearly is a model of collaboration that shows what can be done if people of good will are sincere and willing to come to the table.

“Personally, I’m encouraged because I feel when I meet with folks from the university that I can unapologetically, in an unfiltered way, talk about these issues of race and not have to deal with the defensiveness of white institutions that try to prove they’re not as racist as they really are. It’s in all of our best interests to stay at the table and make things better for this generation and the next.”

Nicholas will be joined on the panel by:

Rita Hubbard-Robinson, CEO, NeuWater & Associates, LLC; Buffalo Center for Health Equity
Heather Orom, PhD, associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion and associate professor, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions, and an associate director of the UB institute
Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., PhD, professor, UB School of Architecture and Planning and an associate director of the UB Institute.