Race to Justice

Race to Justice is the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s internal reform process for advancing racial equity and social justice. It aims to strengthen our work and improve health outcomes for all New Yorkers by:

  • Building staff awareness of how racism and other systems of oppression operate within institutions, and building skills to address these systems
  • Examining how structural racism and other systems of oppression impact the Health Department’s work, decisions, interactions and priorities, and implementing policies and practices to lessen these impacts
  • Strengthening collaborations with New York City’s communities to counter racism and other oppressive systems, with the knowledge that institutions, including the Health Department, are not separate from or immune to these systemic injustices

What is the problem?

Structural racism is at the root of the health gaps we see by race. Years of racist policies and unjust practices across our institutions have led to worse health outcomes in communities of color than in white communities.

For example, discriminatory housing policies in the 1950s created racially segregated neighborhoods and concentrated poverty in communities of color. The results of these policies are visible today in the limited resources and opportunities in low-income areas, which are largely communities of color.

What are we doing about it?

The laws and practices that perpetuate racism were created by people and can be undone by people as well. We have the power – and the responsibility – to rewrite policies for a more inclusive and equitable society.

Racial equity doesn’t involve taking away, conflict, or shame – it’s about building bridges, exploring new solutions, and honoring the full humanity of all of us in order to create a better world. This is not an easy task, but as New Yorkers and as employees of one of the largest, most visible health departments in the world, we are up for the challenge.

Learn More

Engagement Framework: In the spring of 2015, staff from each division of the NYC Health Department formed the Community Engagement Workgroup in an effort to unify the agency’s understanding and approach to community engagement. Community Engagement Framework Document (PDF).

TEDMED Talk: Why your doctor should care about social justice

Op-Ed: NYC Health Department engages in internal reform to advance racial equity and social justice

Op-Ed: #BlackLivesMatter — A Challenge to the Medical and Public Health Communities

Web-Based Course: National Association of County & City Health Official’s Roots of Health Inequity Program

If you have questions, please email racetojustice@health.nyc.gov