Panel discussion: ‘Elevating Power and Black Excellence’

Hsc SocialIn the increasingly complex mosaic of public health and wellness, social determinants play a major role in health disparities.

Social determinants of health are the broad range of nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes and health inequities. Some of these include the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play. Studies suggest the lower a person’s socioeconomic status, the higher the likelihood of them experiencing worse health.

Practically every discussion around this topic has one major theme in common: People of color are disproportionately affected.

A panel discussion hosted by The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth School of Public Health will take on the origins of health disparities among Black people in the U.S.

At 8:30 a.m. Feb. 20, “Elevating Power and Black Excellence” will feature five panelists who live and work on the frontlines of Black health disparities. The event will take place on the seventh floor of HSC’s Carl E. Everett Education & Administration building and is open to the public. Breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m., and the discussion will start at 9:30 a.m. This discussion is one of many taking place on campus during Black History Month.

“As a community-centric School of Public Health, we benefit greatly from engaging experts from the community as co-educators,” said Dr. Shafik Dharamsi, dean of SPH. “Our panelists will provide an important insight into the root causes of health disparities.

“Health professionals need to be aware that poor health outcomes are deeply connected to the ways in which various systems and societal arrangements are established and maintained. Realizing that structural inequalities and implicit bias exist is only the first step. We must also take responsibility by working to change the systems that perpetuate avoidable differences in health outcomes between different groups of people.”

“Elevating Power and Black Excellence” will be moderated by entrepreneur and local community activist Simeon Henderson. Joining him on the panel will be Quinton “Q” Phillips, vice president of the Fort Worth ISD school board and co-founder of the social justice nonprofit CommUnity Frontline; Brandi Waller-Pace, founder and executive director of both music education nonprofit Decolonizing the Music Room and the Fort Worth African American Roots Music Festival; Kenny Mosely, Renaissance Heights Foundation’s executive director; and Misty Wilder, director of HSC’s Healthy Start, a program created by the HSC Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine that provides home visits to improve the health of women and families.

The timing of this discussion is urgent. Research shows Black Americans receive less and lower-quality care for cancer, heart problems, pneumonia, pain management, prenatal and maternal health and preventive health. During the pandemic, this racial longevity gap seemed to grow again after narrowing in recent years.

“I’m looking forward to this important discussion,” Phillips said. “I am honored to be a part of this panel and that The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth is focused on the excellence of the Black community. Unfortunately, pervasive patterns of inequities exist across health conditions for Black Americans and there is a history of poor access to quality health care in our communities. We’re ready for solutions. We want this conversation to be more than merely gathering data points. These types of discussions are vital, and we hope to serve as a catalyst to ending health disparities across the board.”

Wilder said hosting this event is an important signal to the community that HSC can be a nurturing place for important conversations and a catalyst for change.

“As an academic institution charged with educating our feature health leaders, we would be irrelevant to the community if we fail to engage in conversations and actions around social justice,” she said. “It is our responsibility to center and uplift the voices of marginalized communities, especially in the current social climate.”

To register for this free event, visit the “Elevating Power and Black Excellence” Eventbrite page.

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