Community health improvement is about advancing health equity so that people have fair and just opportunities to be as healthy as possible.
Health equity asks people to recognize that entire groups of people cannot enjoy opportunities that others have come to expect because of the conditions created by current and historical decision-making. Moving toward a society committed to health equity means ensuring that everyone, regardless of race, neighborhood, or financial status, has fair and equal access to be as healthy as possible. To eliminate these inequities, we strive to shift power to communities of color, make systems-level change, and center the voices and experiences of community members who are Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC). For HW, how we do our work is just as important as the work itself.
“[Health equity] requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care …[H]ealth equity means reducing and ultimately eliminating disparities in health and its determinants that adversely affect excluded or marginalized groups.”
The Groundwater Approach
To help us stay centered on the structural and cultural causes of racial inequity and not focus on making surface-level changes, we frame our work with The Groundwater Approach from the Racial Equity Institute. The groundwater is a metaphor for structural racism in the US and is founded on three principles:
Racial inequity looks the same across all systems
Socioeconomic differences do not explain racial inequity
Inequities are caused by systems, regardless of culture or behavior