We lead the nation in conducting, rigorous community-engaged research to identify, investigate and explain how racism and other social inequalities may influence the health of diverse local, national and global populations.
The mission of the Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health is to promote health equity through rigorous research, innovative teaching, and community engagement. We aim to do this by focusing on five priorities:
1. TARGET A MAJOR INADEQUATELY ADDRESSED PROBLEM
Although a rapidly expanding body of research suggests racism influences public health in direct and indirect ways, significant conceptual, methodological and empirical gaps remain. Domestic and global demographic shifts underscore the urgent need to understand the emerging patterns and afford new opportunities to study future ways in which racism may influence health disparities. Few U.S. Schools of Public Health have a research unit dedicated to anti-racism health equity research and few non-academic organizations that study racism in society (e.g., the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington DC-based Think Tank) focus solely on the health implications. The Center bridges a gap between understanding racism in society and building the empirical knowledge base that explain its relationship to health disparities.
2. FOSTER AN INTERDISCIPLINARY INTELLECTUAL HOME FOR RESEARCHERS AND SCHOLARS WHO USE CUTTING EDGE, ANTI-RACISM APPROACHES TO STUDY RACISM AND HEALTH EQUITY.
A number of researchers, scholars and post-doctoral trainees in the University of California system independently study racism and health; however, no single unit serves as an intellectual home that brings these individuals together under the rubric of anti-racism health equity research. The Center fosters a rich, respectful intellectual environment. It brings together affiliates from diverse disciplines including public health, medicine, the allied health sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and law. It encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, training and research, and uses incentives (e.g., grants, named awards) to reward exemplary interdisciplinary endeavors.
3. LEAD AMONG ACADEMIC RESEARCH UNITS FOCUSED ON RACIAL JUSTICE AND HEALTH EQUITY
The Center is uniquely situated to advance public health investigations into racial justice and health equity. Our location in Los Angeles and proximity to the Critical Race Studies (CRS) Program in the UCLA School of Law, the only such program in the nation, are important assets. Los Angeles is one of the nation’s most diverse cities. Its rich history of social justice and the region’s critical mass of academic and community-based racial equity scholars have the potential to boost and extend the Center’s efforts. The renowned faculty of the UCLA CRS program includes several co-founders of Critical Race Theory. The Program leads the nation in scholarship on racial justice and jurisprudence. Our Center seeks to lead the nation in such research and scholarship with respect to population health. The Public Health Critical Race Praxis (PHCRP), which constitutes a set of anti-racism health equity research methods that are rooted in Critical Race Theory, is helping to shape the American Public Health Association’s research agenda. To capitalize on this momentum, the PHCRP framework serves as the Center’s organizing logic.
4. ADVANCE THE THEORY AND METHODS USED TO CONCEPTUALIZE AND MEASURE RACISM'S CONTRIBUTIONS TO HEALTH INEQUALITIES
Health-related funding agencies rarely fund the development and evaluation of racism-related theory and methods even though these tools are essential to advance this knowledge. The meanings of social constructs such as race, ethnicity, and racism, are complex. They change over time and contexts, and the health implications depend, in part, on which disease or population is of interest. The Center considers improving theory and research methods critical to advance the evidence base on racism’s contribution to health disparities; therefore, one of its priorities is to support the development and evaluation of rigorous theory-based and empirical research tools.
5. HELP COMMUNITIES UNDERSTAND, DOCUMENT, AND RESPOND TO RACIAL INJUSTICES POTENTIALLY CONTRIBUTING TO HEALTH DISPARITIES
The Center translates and disseminates research findings so that communities in California and elsewhere can use the evidence to guide their ongoing health equity efforts. The Center works with communities to identify and understand threats to social justice they may face and help build community capacity to address these challenges. The Center involves community partners in planning and conducting research.