Lunch and Learn Chats Advocate for Black Health
By Dianne Anderson
Munch a brunch with virtual Lunch and Learn chats this month where experts will share their strategies on how to deal with discrimination in healthcare, advocate for self-help, and help for family and friends.
Upcoming forums will cover steps the community can take when medical professionals either don’t care, don’t listen, or provide the wrong treatment.
Ernesta Wright, executive director of the G.R.E.E.N. Foundation, said their events provide feedback around health inequity, how it plays out in healthcare, and how to respond. No one should let it slide, she said, or it will continue happening in the community.
“This is the treatment you and I are going to get because we need to stand [up] for that. I constantly say always put it in writing and share and blast out the doctor because it’s true,” she said.
This month’s ActNOW Mental Health “Take Action” LA luncheon Zoom forums all run from 11-11:45 a.m. On June 15, participants will cover Discrimination & Advocacy. On June 22, participants will learn client navigation and Advocacy, concluding with June 29 and review of support services with Ernesta Wright.
Wright also works with leadership from Orange County and Los Angeles County up to Sacramento, where policies are created. She said the fight for equality in services is an important part of civics for the Black community.
“Nobody is going to say don’t forget about Black people, even if you’re at the table, it’s a bidirectional benefit for us to show both sides [of the process],” she said, adding that the program’s reach is focused not only at the local level, but also for sustainable prevention support at the statewide level.
Policy level participation empowers the community, and usually crosses over to advocacy in healthcare, she added. Many are frustrated with the continuing inequity, but she said learning to navigate the system is a big help for physical and mental health.
“Screaming and hollering, that’s high blood pressure,” she said. “Some people say I gave them a piece of my mind and after a while you won’t have any pieces.”
Wright’s nonprofit was among the first round of inaugural funding from the Orange County Community Foundation, and is part of OC-CF’s 2023 grantees for social justice.
As more attention to Black health disparities has brought more funding in recent times, she said it is critical to continue applying pressure for equal access to resources, especially in light of the fallout from the pandemic.
“We need to take advantage of this time of COVID that revealed such ugliness,” she said. We need to make sure that we don’t go back to the old [way] of not having the funds that we need.”
She is also collaborating with a team in Sacramento to make more funding available in health and racial equity to eliminate persistent huge gaps in services. There, she works with Pastor Roy Brown of New Life Baptist Church of Christ, which included a recent rally roundtable in Sacramento.
“We have partners and collaborations, but we’re only able to expand through genuine coalition and collaboration of committed individuals to improve the lives of Black folks,” she said.
Through ActNOW health education, the GREEN Foundation’s statewide effort works with a northern California-based advocacy on health equity racial justice initiative and justice fund, calling on Congress and legislators to ensure funding reaches the underrepresented community.
“I want to expose our people to what we need to do. We collaborate and the initiative helps us to do that,” Wright said.
Last month, she and a dozen collaborators met for health equity round table talks on health, policy, and the role of the church in the process. She also works around policy regarding one of the largest impacted groups of hate crime, the Black LGBTQ community.
But her advocacy goes back over 20 years ago when she first started breast cancer awareness outreach and resources for Black women, who remain the hardest hit of all groups. Her programming continues to cover all the essentials of support services, also including information and resources on prostate cancer.
“We still do client navigation. In Los Angeles someone from their congregation needed help and support, they said to contact the GREEN Foundation to help determine what direction to go in,” she said.
But many are missing checkups and mammograms since COVID and are not yet scheduled. Doctors and surgeons are urging women to get back to regular checkups.
The American Cancer Society reports that Black women have a 4% higher breast cancer death rate compared to White Women. ACS also reports that millions in the United States continued to miss cancer screening tests during the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women who reported having cervical cancer screening dropped by 4.4 million in 2021 versus 2019 levels. Their study also showed 1.1 million fewer women received breast cancer screening and close to 700,000 thousand men reported forgoing a prostate cancer screening test. The research was published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO).
“We can’t stress enough the importance of returning to screening,” said Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, senior vice president, surveillance & health equity science at the American Cancer Society and senior author of the study. “We need to continue health system and national cancer screening campaigns and focus our efforts toward people of color and lower socioeconomic standing to improve access to life-saving screenings.”
For more information on events, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 323-229-3411.