Staff from the UConn Health Disparities Institute (HDI) hope attendees of its upcoming summit will walk away with ideas to help promote health equity and racial justice for boys and men of color.
The virtual, international event, titled the 2021 State of Health Equity among Boys and Men of Color Summit, will start on Tuesday, June 8 and run through Thursday, June 10. Registration remains open through the first day.
Dr. Wizdom Powell, director of the HDI and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at UConn Health, says boys and men of color are a source of untapped potential, and by addressing the inequities they face, it will help the community as a whole.
“We are doing it because we are committed and we know when we build a community, a family, a system, a world where everyone has an opportunity…everybody wins,” Powell said.
In 2018, HDI released its CT Report Card on Health Equity among Boys and Men of Color, which evaluated available data. There are several areas where men of color experience disparities when it comes to health, whether that be health coverage, health conditions, or mortality rates.
Instances of racial violence against men of color, including the death of George Floyd, also serve to re-traumatize, Powell said.
“The fact that this summit is happening now on the heels of repeated deaths and murders of brown and black people, boys and men from those communities, should not be understated,” Powell said. She added, “people can only see the humanity of brown and black men in their deaths.”
She said the summit is a way to change the narrative so boys and men of color can be seen as “wonders to behold as opposed to problems to be solved.”
The summit is composed of people of all different disciplines and speakers, will mix art and music, and will cover topics such as behavioral health, incarceration and justice, trauma and HIV/AIDS.
There will be breakout sessions and workshops. A companion event, “The Ideas Lab,” will then be held on June 11, where participants will be broken out into groups and paired with a mentor to come up with a proposal for action whether it be research or some other kind of initiative, Powell said. A review panel will then choose up to three projects for funding.
Powell said organizers are cognizant that a virtual event can be a long time in front of a computer, so much thought was put into keeping them engaged.
Meanwhile the HDI is continuing its research and is preparing to release another report card regarding men and boys of color at the end of this year, but the organization is also preparing a report card discussing women and girls of color.
In the end, Powell said, a nation is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens.
“We have an opportunity here to advance equity,” Powell said. “This is a watershed moment in our nation.”
To register for the event, or access a PDF schedule, go here.