Addressing Structural Racism
As most of you, we in Faith and Health Partnerships at Advocate Aurora Health are pausing and thinking about what we are called to do as people of faith and spirit to address structural racism. 

Just one of the reasons why this is so important for us to do: racism is a public health crisis that is costing the lives and well-being of people of color.

What do we mean by racism? Dr. Camara Jones, a global public health leader whose work focuses on the impact of racism on the health and well-being of the nation, defines racism this way. She says, “Racism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that:

1. Unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, 
2. Unfairly advantages other individuals and communities,
3. Saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.

We want to stir up our faith and health partnership work to move structural racism to the front burner in all that we are doing. We need to be clear about how our whole society is sapped when some people are unfairly advantaged, and others are unfairly disadvantaged. We do this in partnership with you, as communities of faith and spirit. 

To get the conversation started, we offer you some resources and perspectives on structural racism as a public health crisis. This is just a beginning for work that will last for the rest of our lives and you likely have many more resources that you have found helpful. So, there is more to come, but it’s a place to start.

One of the first steps we are taking on this journey is to offer Racial Healing Circles over the next two weeks. We are grateful to the Chicago Department of Public Health, Truth Racial Healing and Transformation of the Kellogg Foundation and Woods Fund Chicago for making these circles available. 

These are small circles offered to help communities heal and to produce actionable change. The sessions are a place to share, listen, and remember our common humanity. Please note that Circles are being offered separately for white participants and for people of color, since we have different things to work on around this issue. Space is limited, so please sign up as soon as possible to ensure your spot .

Rev. Kirsten Peachey
Director, Faith and Health Partnerships, Mission and Spiritual Care
Co-Director, The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation
Upcoming Events
Saturday, July 18, 8:30 a.m.-6:00 p.m.

The Black Health Matters Virtual Summit was created for African American families committed to living their healthiest life by educating themselves. 

You can ask questions and share your concerns with others who care about what is important to you, and your health. You’ll meet physicians, scientists and those who advocate for equity in all areas of health. The event also includes a special message from Michelle Obama.
July 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 at various times

  • Are you wrestling with what actions you want to take around structural racism?
  • Confused and struggling to know how to respond to racism as white person? 
  • Need a space to gather with other people of color for restoration and renewal?

Racial Healing Circles are designed for brave and rich conversations about racism and how we want to respond. Circles are offered separately for people of color and for white people to provide safety for the distinct needs that each of our communities have.

These facilitated conversations offer space where we can share, listen and remember our common humanity. By the end of the session, the hope is that you will be moving to a different relationship with yourself, your community and the world. These sessions are offered at no cost. Sign up soon because the groups are intentionally small. 
Wednesday, July 29, noon-1:00 p.m.

This virtual conversation will lead us through dialogue around mental and behavioral health stigma and facts in minority communities, COVID-19 and its impact on mental health and much more. The event will feature a distinguished panel of mental and behavioral health experts from both Wisconsin and Illinois. Panelists include:

  • Dr. Munther Barakat, Psy.D., Director of Behavioral Health Therapy (Aurora Psychiatric Hospital)
  • Dr. Blaire Lewis, Psy. D., Manager, Trauma Recovery Center (Advocate Christ Medical Center) 
  • Dr. Lakeia Jones, MS, Ph.D., LPC, CSAC, CCTP, Chief Executive Officer, Director and Psychotherapist, AMRI Counseling Services, LLC  
  • Jameila Hand, MHS CADC CODP, CEO, Vantage Clinical Consulting LLC. 
Out of this pain can come purpose and power
By:  Erickajoy Daniels, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for Advocate Aurora Health

More than 250 years ago, one of my ancestors kept a journal.

Augustus was a slave in southern Maryland, and he filled his journal with letters and words as he learned to read and write.

But eventually, his slave master became angry when he learned that Augustus was educating himself. He tossed the journal into a fire. Fortunately, someone rescued the journal before it was completely destroyed. Over the generations, the remains of the journal was passed through my family, and I keep a single page of Augustus’ writing with me today.

Racism is a public health crisis
Advocate Aurora Health is proud to sign a letter from 36 health care providers across Chicago that shines a light on how systemic racism threatens the health of our patients, families and communities. We stand united against, racism, injustice and inaction. Read the letter .
Take action
Poor People's Campaign : Sign on to an open letter to our nation’s lawmakers to end systemic racism and implement a reconstruction agenda for our country. The letter includes demands on our federal government to end systemic racism and all related injustices:

  • Protect and expand the right to vote for black, brown, indigenous and poor people.
  • Federal legislation that makes police officers accountable and liable for abuses of their power.
  • Demilitarize the police, end mass incarceration and stop criminalizing the poor.
  • Establish real security by taking care of health needs in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond and address the poverty and disinvestment in communities.

MuslimARC invites you to take the #SacredPledge and receive MuslimARC tools to #ResistRacism.

The pledge reads, in part:

  • I pledge to keep my heart open. I will resist disregard with thoughtfulness.
  • I pledge to seek knowledge. I will resist ignorance with understanding.
  • I pledge to lend a hand. I will resist scarcity with generosity.
  • I pledge to care. I will resist apathy with concern.
  • I pledge to reflect, learn, engage, and support. I will resist uncertainty with resolve.

The pledge includes:
  • Working to dismantle racial injustice by listening to voices, experiences and the expertise of people of color. Learn about the ELCA ethnic-specific associations and their strategies.
  • Learning the history of systemic racism in this country and the ways racism and white supremacy impact every aspect of our life together.

Act now to urge your members of Congress to enact meaningful federal reforms to prevent police violence. Congress is already moving to consider a legislative package. It is critical that it include the eight federal policing priorities JCPA and over 440 other civil rights organizations have endorsed.

Fall Institute: September-October 2020

SC2ER assists participants take a deeper look into our history, socialization, and cultural-ethnic ways of being, and how we continue to practice behaviors consciously and unconsciously. During the virtual modules, participants will explore relevant and practical ways to have conversations that are inclusive of diverse cultures and ethnic identities.

Recorded webinars
Rev. Dr. Danielle Buhuro, editor of the acclaimed volume, Spiritual Care in an Age of #BlackLivesMatter: Examining the Spiritual and Prophetic Needs of African Americans in a Violent America, laid out a basic understanding of spiritual care with the current social, emotional, existential and spiritual needs of African Americans simply surviving in a violent America.

Buhuro offered specific spiritual care strategies and interventions for African Americans dealing with particular physical, social and emotional health challenges in the midst of racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia in the United States.
The United Church of Christ invites you to rewatch Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III's cinematic sermon entitled, "The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery." Immediately following the live video, a panel of four respected thought leaders, racial justice advocates and UCC pastors discussed the impact of historical and present-day acts of racism and violence towards African Americans. And they discussed how the Christian Church can be actively involved in dismantling racism.

Our world is bathed in trauma. On every level, we are stressed, grieving and challenged. Yet we know that life and love break through, as does resilience, hope and power. As trauma-informed, healing-engaged people of faith and spirit:

  • What are the lessons we are learning that could be helpful to others?
  • What are we called to do in times such as these?  
  • How do we use this opportunity to create the world that we want?

The Chicagoland Trauma Informed Congregations Network webinar explored these questions and called each other to our deepest way of being a source of love, resilience and healing in our world.
Advocate Children's Health Resource Center

Advocate Children’s Health Resource Center  has easy access to trusted health information – perfect for parents, teenagers and children. Explore our online resources on a wide variety of children’s health topics including social wellness, self-esteem, racial justice, gender identity, pride, hunger, poverty, and more.

Social Wellness Articles: 
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Resources

Freed in Christ: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture - Evangelical Lutheran Church in America social statement that expresses the ELCA’s calling to celebrate culture and ethnicity. This calling commits the ELCA to confront racism, to engage in public leadership, witness and deliberation on these matters, and to advocate for justice and fairness for all people.

Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to People of African Descent documents the ELCA's apology to people of African descent for its historical complicity in slavery and its enduring legacy of racism in the United States and globally.

See additional ELCA racial justice resources here.
Humanitarian Disaster Institute Resources

The Black Church in Action Against Racism During COVID-19 - a manual from the Humanitarian Disaster Institute

Accessible and relevant to any church looking to take action against racism while also protecting health during COVID-19, this guide offers practical ways for churches to respond to systemic vulnerabilities, become collective agents of change, develop productive partnerships, and not get weary in well-doing.
Jewish Social Justice Roundtable Resources

Resources for Jewish organizations that are interested in applying a racial-justice lens to their work, both internally and externally, in terms of educational opportunities, policies and practices and more. Learn more .
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative Resources

MuslimARC is committed to providing critical resources to building interfaith and multiracial coalitions to advance racial justice. Resources currently include articles, audiovisual recordings, toolkits, papers, research, khutbahs, reading lists, an anti-racism glossary, a directory of experts, and more. Learn more.
National Council of Churches Resources

A.C.T. Now to End Racism Initiative of the National Council of Churches urges the NCC, its members and partners to Awaken to the many manifestations of white supremacy and racism especially in the church, to Confront the need for change, and to work to Transform church and society into a reflection of the inclusive and equitable reign of God.

"I define racism as a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources."

Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD, is adjunct professor at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University; a senior fellow and adjunct associate professor at Morehouse School of Medicine, and a family physician and epidemiologist whose work focuses on the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation.