April is National Minority Health Month, and this year’s theme is Give Your Community a Boost. The Alliance for Health Equity is all about Strengthening Communities. Our goal is to improve health, social, emotional, and economic conditions in the Greater Coatesville area, where residents struggle disproportionately, in comparison to Chester County as a whole, with health and economic disparities.
Consider these facts:
- 38% of Coatesville residents use public assistance to purchase food.
- Both the city of Coatesville and West Chester Borough are federally designated food deserts.
- Coatesville officially lost its last remaining public hospital this year.
The NIH notes that National Minority Health Month is “a time to raise awareness about health disparities that continue to affect people from racial and ethnic minority groups and encourage action through health education, early detection, and control of disease complications.”
In recognition of National Minority Health Month, let’s take a look at where we were, where we are, and where we should be.
Reality vs Equality vs Equity vs Liberation
There is a powerful illustration making the rounds on social media. Perhaps you’ve seen it? Depicting a fence overlooking a ballpark and three people of varying height, each of the four panels shows the differences of equality, equity and liberation as opposed to the reality in the United States.
Some people have more advantages than others, from generational wealth and privilege, better health and access to care, or even gender. This is represented by the height of each individual, and the fence serves as a barrier that is not easily removed. We will break it down for you here.
1.Reality: In the first panel, the boxes are literally stacked against those less fortunate. The tallest of the three individuals stands high above the fence on a tower of wooden crates. The person in the middle is boosted by one single crate, just enough to see over the fence. The smallest individual, already disadvantaged, is standing inside a hole.
2. Equality: In this scenario, all three individuals stand atop a single crate of the same size. Naturally, the tallest of the group has the best view. The view of the person in the middle is unchanged. And while the smaller individual is no longer in the hole, this person is still unable to reach the top of the fence, showing all things equal is not always the answer.
3. Equity: Merriam-Webster defines equity as freedom from bias or favoritism. In other words, equity provides people with the tools they need to be successful. In this case, the tallest person does not need a crate to see over the barrier. The person in the middle needs just one, while the smallest needs two crates to reach the same level as everyone else.
4. Liberation: The fence is removed in the final panel and all three people have an unobstructed view, emphasizing that, for true liberation to occur, the barriers need to come down. This should be the goal whenever possible, and like the illustration, it is something all of us should be cheering for.
How can we as a community liberate health?
At the Alliance for Health Equity, we believe in a shared humanity — a world where we are all embraced for who we are, and we are all able to reach our highest potential. We are striving to build a thriving, inclusive, and healthy community for all in the Greater Coatesville area, but we cannot do it alone. As home to some of Chester County’s poorest neighborhoods, our children, seniors, adults and youth lack the quality healthcare, mental health, behavioral health, and social support services that they need. Join us in being a catalyst to spark new initiatives where they are needed the most, and break down the inequitable fence (barriers) to enact liberation. Click here to learn how you can get involved, or click here to make a donation.
For more information on National Minority Health Month, please visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and the National Institutes of Minority Health and and Health Disparities.
The Alliance for Health Equity (formerly Brandywine Health Foundation) is a philanthropic organization striving to advance a more equitable, resilient and healthy community for all residents of the Greater Coatesville area. We pursue our mission by providing grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students that address health and economic disparities and social justice. We also build partnership programs and give voice to those often left out of community solution building to improve the overall health of their communities. 100% of contributions go directly to those in need.