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Healing Through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice

blue and red conversation bubbles"It takes more than talk to move the needle to become a healthier nation — we need action through policy change."
--APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD

Across the country, there is growing acknowledgment of the impact of racism on the health of individuals and communities. Through resolutions, executive orders, and other mechanisms, many local leaders are declaring racism a public health crisis and are committing to addressing systemic health and racial inequities. Leaders are exploring the policies and practices that are most needed to move from commitment to action and how to best use policy to effect meaningful change toward health, racial equity, and justice.

Healing Through Policy policy and practice briefs cover pageLaunched in October 2021, Healing Through Policy: Creating Pathways to Racial Justice is an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation, the American Public Health Association, and the National Collaborative for Health Equity, in collaboration with Results for America.

Using the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation framework, Healing Through Policy offers local leaders a suite of policies and practices that are being implemented across the country to promote racial healing and address social inequities.

To be included in the suite, each policy or practice must:

  • Have been successfully implemented in at least one jurisdiction;
  • Show promise of impact on health and racial equity (via evidence or expert opinion);
  • Acknowledge and address historic racial injustices and demonstrate meaningful engagement of impacted communities; and
  • Be under local jurisdictional authority.

In 2022 and 2023, Healing Through Policy partner organizations will convene communities of practice to identify, plan actions, and disseminate the local steps needed to pass and implement a subset of curated policies and practices from the suite. The partners will provide technical assistance to communities of practice undertaking these efforts.

The communities of practice model will be used to:

  • Organize groups of people from diverse localities who share common goals for policy and practice adoption/implementation to address racism as a public health crisis;
  • Deepen communities’ learning and knowledge to collectively advance adoption/implementation; and
  • Provide a structured and facilitated venue for peer-learning and action to achieve impact in localities.

These communities of practice will have the potential to serve as a model for other localities pursuing work toward racial and health equity.

Policy and Practice Options

NARRATIVE CHANGE: Overview | Full Policy and Practice Brief
Transforming How We Communicate About our Past, Present and Future, Including Direct Conversations in Multiracial, Multiethnic Tables in Communities

  • Executive orders, resolutions, ordinances and declarations to advance racial equity
  • Mapping, data collection, and analysis efforts to understand and address inequities and measure progress
  • Racial impact assessments, frameworks, and other systems to achieve accountability
  • Redesigning public spaces to equitably honor our shared history
  • Creating curricula that are respectful, inclusive, and honor the diverse communities in children’s schools

RACIAL HEALING AND RELATIONSHIP BUILDING: Overview | Full Policy and Practice Brief
Healing from the Wounds of the Past, Building Mutually Respectful Relationships Across Racial and Ethnic Lines, and Building Trusting Intergenerational and Diverse Community Relationships

  • Resolutions, dialogue models, racial healing circles, and restorative justice practices aimed at understanding historical harms and repairing relationships
  • Training and capacity-building for practitioners, educators, and service providers around overcoming bias and healing
  • Local truth commissions that promote racial healing
  • Acknowledgement, public apologies, and commitments to redress by localities for their role in slavery and/or advancing systemic racism

SEPARATION: Overview | Full Policy and Practice Brief
The Division of Groups Based on a Particular Characteristic, Including Races and/or Socioeconomic Status, Fostered by Historic and Present-Day Land Use and Development Decisions That Perpetuate Racial Inequities

  • Zoning innovation for health and equity
  • Displacement and eviction protections to preserve the right to housing
  • Equitable transportation and planning to improve access to opportunity
  • School integration to promote social justice and social mobility

LAW: Overview | Full Policy and Practice Brief
The Government-Sponsored Legal Authorization and Enforcement of Public and Private Systems and Policies to Maintain Hierarchy, Denying the Full Humanity of People of Color

  • Endorsement and implementation of 21st Century Policing recommendations and other comprehensive police reforms
  • Diversion of police funding to support alternatives to policing and prevention programs, such as investments in behavioral and mental health services
  • Reclassification of violations, decriminalization, and bail, probation, and fees reform to address racial and socioeconomic biases
  • Immigrant-friendly policies and practices to promote equitable opportunity

ECONOMY: Overview | Full Policy and Practice Brief
The Implementation and Proliferation of Opportunity Systems That Exploit and Oppress People of Color for the Financial Gain of Others

  • Income and asset strategies to promote economic mobility of individuals and families of color
  • Equitable investment and development that prioritizes community voice and assets
  • Compensatory redress to rectify historical injustices that economically disadvantage communities of color


The policy and practice suite is being widely disseminated to cities across the United States. In coming years, Healing Through Policy partners plan to provide technical assistance to local governments and community leaders undertaking efforts to advance policies and practices in the suite.

Ultimately, this effort will offer local leaders a pragmatic and achievable, yet aspirational and innovative, set of policies and practices that can advance local health and racial equity priorities and needs.


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