Friday, July 23, 2021 – Today, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) released its first commission-wide Anti-Racism Policy Statement and Action Plan. The policy statement, effective immediately, affirms that Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color lives matter and denounces all forms of racism. The policy action plan builds on BPHC’s two-decades of groundwork and commits BPHC to expanding its work to include standard race/ethnicity data collection and use, departmental racial equity goals and action plans, staff recruitment, hiring, promotion and training, and racial equity performance accountability systems. It also establishes a work plan with performance management measures to hold BPHC accountable to its commitment to address the impact of racism on the lives of Boston residents and their overall health
“We have been laying the groundwork for this Anti-Racism Policy for many years, with staff training, a focus on equitable procurement, and budgeting and monitoring our employment,” said Rita Nieves, BPHC Interim Executive Director. “This is the logical and necessary next step; an explicit commitment and requirement that we institutionalize racial equity in our policies, practices and programs.”
“Our understanding of the complex relationships between racism and health outcomes and what it means to be an anti-racist public health organization is evolving,” said Triniese Polk, Director of the Office of Racial Equity and Community Engagement at BPHC. “This policy statement will hold us accountable as an organization in the days ahead.”
As laid out in the action plan, BPHC will:
Develop a Racial Equity Tool and normalize use across all departments.
Develop and implement department Racial Equity Teams and Action Plans.
Create and use a system to better understand the race and ethnicity of BPHC clients to provide better services.
Update all-staff Racial Equity training to reflect current community understanding of Anti-Racism. Train supervisors to recognize and avoid Implicit Bias and Microaggressions.
Increase opportunities for community engagement in budget processes and Racial Equity Action Plans.
Review yearly amounts budgeted to reduce racial inequities.
Expand BPHC's Equitable Procurement Policy.
Embed racial equity language in new funding opportunities.
Develop and implement recruitment, promotion and retention strategies to increase the number of people of color in BPHC staff and leadership.
Create and use a system to collect, track and report racial equity impact and share results with residents.
Read the full BPHC Policy Statement and Action Plan here.
BPHC envisions a thriving Boston where all residents live healthy, fulfilling lives free of racism, poverty, violence, and other systems of oppression, and where all residents have equitable opportunities and resources, leading to optimal health and well-being. The Commission has prioritized Racial and Health Equity for more than twenty-years beginning with a community coalition to address the unequal rates of breast and cervical cancer deaths for Black women. Since then, BPHC has established a wide range of initiatives focusing on equitable community engagement, equitable budgeting and procurement, and staff training in racial equity and justice.
“It is imperative to boldly take action to address racism holistically. BPHC has a rich history of leading as one of the nation's oldest health departments and I'm proud of the new standard they are setting with this policy by focusing on the root causes impacting our neighbor's and communities' well-being,” said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez.
In June of 2020, former Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh declared racism a public health crisis, dedicating funding to BPHC in the FY21 budget and announcing immediate actions and long-term strategies to address the impact racism has on the health and well-being of Boston residents.