A CALL TO ACTION: Applying A Race Equity Lens to Build Thriving Communities.

Author:Evans, Tracy Wareing


In It for the Long Haul: What It Takes to Advance Race Equity--Insights from Local Leaders

We want every human being to live a happy, vibrant life. It's at the heart of what we aspire to, and what brings so many leaders in the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) network to share insights, spark new ideas, and work collectively together.

Last fall, at a gathering of our local leaders at the 10th annual Harvard Health and Human Services Summit, (1) the call to action was clear--to advance our vision, we must commit not only to span the boundaries of human services, health, education, housing, and justice systems, but to get underneath the structural inequities and biases within these systems in order to achieve well-being for all people.

We must commit to working with families to lift up community-relevant strategies that build health and wellbeing and to taking a deep look at not only how parents and their children are impacted by poverty, housing, and lack of economic opportunity, but why our systems have disproportionately impacted race and ethnicity.

As one APHSA member warned, "we will never be the country that we pretend we are if we don't get at race equity." Another leader noted that if we cannot get underneath the levers that cause structural inequities, then we will continue to talk around the edges and be forever stuck in "managing side-shows" rather than building truly thriving communities.

The imperative is clear--and leaders in our network are asking how to take direct action and ensure we are advancing our work through a race equity lens. What is required in our agencies, in our own communities, in our state, and as a collective group of national leaders? What we know is that the answers to these questions are not singular nor simple.

The challenge before all of us is complex, dynamic, rooted in historical policy and practice, and bigger than our field. There is no silver bullet--no single approach. We must create platforms to learn from each other, share our insights and progress, and tackle the roadblocks together.

At APHSA, we are committed to supporting the deep and intentional work required to illuminate where structural inequities exist and why. We believe the work is both an urgent imperative for our field if we are to make strides in achieving real and sustainable race equity, and a marathon, for which we must be willing to adjust the pace to make it to the finish line.


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