Nothing is more essential than our health. In order to be healthy, low-income communities and communities of color need targeted investments in structures that lead to good health — including access to health care, safe and clean neighborhoods, healthy foods and decent jobs.
People of color are more likely to live in an unhealthy community, experience high rates of violence, lack access to health care, and suffer from chronic health conditions. For example, low-income African Americans are more than three times as likely to be hospitalized for asthma as other racial or ethnic groups, due in large part to poor air quality in their neighborhoods. Too often, existing policies, programs and discussions don’t adequately address the specific concerns of communities of color, and leaders often fail to involve diverse groups in shaping policies.
Greenlining brings the voices of communities of color into critical decisions that affect all of our lives and health. Our current efforts include:
- Racial Equity in Policymaking – We believe that policymaking should focus on racial equity: the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial or ethnic identity was no longer a determining factor in one’s success. Having an equity, rather than an equality approach, considers the fact that every community has unique needs.
- Upstream Approaches to Health – Not-for-profit hospitals get large tax breaks in exchange for working to improve community health. In addition to “charity care” for the uninsured, we believe that this duty can be better achieved through programs and investments that keep low-income and diverse communities healthy to being with. Community benefit needs to be updated to reflect the realities of health care and community health needs in the 21st century.
- Boys and Men of Color – We believe that California’s boys and young men of color deserve to be healthy and have opportunities to succeed. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of Latino, African American, Native American, and Southeast Asian males are trapped in a cycle of poverty, prison, and disadvantage. We are working with the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color to improve the health of, and create opportunities for, boys and young men of color.
- Access to Health Care – Implementation of national health care reform is well under way. For important information about signing up for coverage, click here. Greenlining strongly supports the Affordable Care Act, which offers the best chance in decades to expand access to care. Our landmark iHealth report helped show the way to making sure that California’s new Health Benefit Exchange (called Covered California) and SHOP Exchange (also part of Covered California), for small businesses, reach all of our communities. We continue to work with the Covered California board to ensure that the new law’s benefits reach all who need them.
- Health Industry Diversity – We support diversity and expanded access to health resources by developing public/private partnerships involving pharmaceutical and biotech firms, insurers, and hospitals through advocacy with health care companies and California state agencies. We work to open pathways into health sector careers for communities of color.