Forum Explores Widespread Discrimination Experienced by People of Color

By Miriam Zoila Pu00e9rez Jan 17, 2018

Yesterday (January 16), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health hosted a forum on community-driven solutions to discrimination in America.

It was inspired by a survey conducted by the three groups that examined individuals’ experiences with discrimination, and investigated how those experiences differed depending on race, gender identity and sexual orientation. The survey results were released in October 2017, and NPR covered many of the findings in a series of stories released throughout the fall.

While the overall theme of the gathering was "solutions for health," the conversation addressed the many ways that discrimination impacts people’s lives. You can watch the event via the archived livestream above; here are three key moments from the conversation to watch out for.

1. LGBTQ people and African Americans were the most likely to consider moving because of discrimination. Thirty-one percent of LGBTQ people polled and 23 percent of African Americans polled reported they had considered changing their address because of the discrimination they faced in their neighborhoods. This point was made during the first large panel discussion, which featured people who represented each of the groups that were analyzed for the report: Latinxs, African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and LGBTQ people. The conversation also dived into the work these groups are doing to address this discrimination.

2. Immigrants, especially immigrants with undocumented status, live in fear of encounters with the police. During the second panel—which was about addressing discrimination in policing—moderator and journalist Maria Hinojosa emphasized the intersections of policing and immigration enforcement. The conversation had tense moments, as she was joined on the panel by a San Pablo, California, police officer, a police trainer and two immigration reform advocates. Hinojosa shared that the immigrants she interviewed in Alabama reported that before they leave the house each day, they pray that they will not encounter law enforcement officers. John Shanks, director of the Police Training Institute, responded that he was deeply saddened to hear this.

3. Participants asked if gentrification is a new form of racism. Hinojosa also moderated a conversation on discrimination in housing, which included representatives from state and local housing agencies and initiatives. As the conversation progressed, Aaron Bartley, cofounder and executive director of People United for Sustainable Housing in Buffalo, New York, said that gentrification is a new form of racism.

It was a wide-ranging conversation that demonstrated both the breadth of the problems, and the breadth of the approaches to addressing them. As Damon Hewitt, executive director of Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, plainly put it in his closing remarks: "America is built on a foundation of discrimination."