Black Bodies, Black Health Research Project Lead, Founding and Executive Director, Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University, Professor of English and Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers-New Brunswick
Black Bodies, Black Health
Image credit: Chidiebere Ibe
Black Bodies, Black Health
Black Bodies, Black Health is a research project, supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Through seed grants, workshops, conferences and both scholarly and public writing, Black Bodies, Black Health incentivizes humanists, social scientists, and biomedical researchers to engage in interdisciplinary work to explore and unpack structural racism in service of creating equitable health outcomes.
Black Bodies, Black Health Steering Committee
With a wide and diverse range of expertise, steering committee members help to frame the seed grant program that incentivizes and organizes Rutgers researchers, and the interdisciplinary workshops and conversations convened to synthesize and develop their specific research projects. Steering Committee members will contribute to the project’s final report identifying the research needed in humanistic and social scientific fields to ameliorate structural racism as a determinant of health and wellbeing.
Building an Inter-Disciplinary Conversation
Led by PIs Michelle Stephens and Anna Branch, the Steering Committee of Black Bodies, Black Health: Imagining a Just Racial Future focuses on organizing cross-disciplinary discussion groups of experts to wrestle with the question: What would we learn from bringing humanists, social scientists, and biomedical researchers to the table to explore, unpack, and disrupt structural racism in service of creating equitable health outcomes?
Professor, Latino and Caribbean Studies, School of Arts and Sciences New Brunswick; ISGRJ Cross Campus Director for Undergraduate Intellectual Life and Associate Director ISGRJ-New Brunswick
Dean and Professor of Biostatistics and Urban-Global Public Health at the School of Public Health; founder and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS)
Professor and Research Division Chief, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Associate Professor of Sociology, School of Arts and Sciences, New Brunswick
Associate Professor of Psychology, School of Arts and Sciences, Newark and Director of the Rutgers Implicit Social Cognition (RISC) Lab
The Black Bodies, Black Health project provided seed grants for 2022 and 2023 to support a range of multi-disciplinary research projects that focus on forms of physician education; the carceral state; environmental racism; the physiological impact of racism on black bodies; and ethics and decolonial justice in global health.
Researchers in fields as diverse as applied psychology (Alexandria Bauer, GSAPP NB), history (Johanna Schoen, SAS NB) and medicine (Pamela Brug, RBHS), examine such topics as communication between doctors and black families in neonatal ICUs, the impact of cultural humility among physicians, and the effectivity of technological solutions to uniting like-minded patients and physicians.
Studies of the impact of environmental racism on health outcomes by researchers from the environmental sciences (Anita Bakshi, SEBS NB), nursing (Wanda Williams and Mei Fu, SON CMD) and history (Rachel Devlin, SAS NB) focus on environmental justice and indigeneity, the impact of place-based versus person-based barriers on rates of breast cancer screenings among black women, and a micro-history of the impact of environmental racism on a southern black community.
Research initiatives focus on the intersections of population ethics and health in African spaces or poor-resources settings, and the role of histories of colonization in continuing health inequities around the globe.
Researchers from applied psychology (Peter Economou, GSAPP NB) and labor relations (Yana Rodgers, SMLR NB) study racism as a contributor to physiological stress in black athletes and black women in the labor market.
As a crucial contemporary instance of the institutionalization of systemic, structural racism with negative health outcomes, scholars from philosophy (Lauren Lyons, SAS NB), psychology (Lori Hoggard, SAS NB) nursing (Ann Bagchi, RBHS) and social work (Maxine Davis, SSW NB), are studying the ethics of carceral justice...
Congratulations to Charles Senteio, associate professor of Library and Information Science at the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers-New Brunswick for being honored with the Public Good Pinnacle Award by Rutgers University Equity and Inclusion.
The award recognizes outstanding university collaborations in partnership with, and for the benefit of the community.
Read the recent NJ Spotlight News article which features Perry Halkitis, BBBH Steering Committee member and Dean and Professor of Biostatistics and Urban-Global Public Health at the School of Public Health; founder and director of the Center for Health, Identity, Behavior & Prevention Studies (CHIBPS)
Read the toolkit - developed by Alexandria Bauer and the The REACH (Racial Equity, Advocacy, and Community Health) Alliance at Rutgers University Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies - designed to be a resource for mental health service providers who are interested in more effectively engaging with diverse clients in order to promote culturally relevant mental health care.
The New Jersey Council for the Humanities (NJCH) awarded the top prize in the inaugural Stanley N. Katz Prize for Excellence in Public Humanities to a multimedia project headed by Dr. Anita Bakshi (Rutgers Department of Landscape Architecture) and co-created with the Ramapough Lunaape Nation Turtle Clan. The award-winning project, “The Ramapough and the Ringwood Mines Superfund Site – History, Culture, Education, and Environmental Justice,” was recognized at NJCH’s 50th Anniversary Gala.
Born out of a landscape architecture course taught by Assistant Professor of Teaching, and BBBH Seed Grantee Anita Bakshi, the Our Land, Our Stories project brings together the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Ramapough Lunaape Nation to focus on environmental justice advocacy. In Spring 2022 their team received a grant to create a garden on campus to celebrate the continued presence of Indigenous communities in our state. Watch a recap of the event held at Rutgers Gardens.
Read the first published article in the Journal of Community Health detailing the study by Mei Fu and Wanda Williams of a novel multi-level intervention to reduce breast cancer screening disparity in Black women who live in an environmental justice community. The proposed project serves as the platform to garner talents from multi-disciplinary researchers to target on the multi-level barriers to breast cancer screening disparities.
As a pilot project, The TULiP digital platform will be developed to connect Black members of the healthcare force with the Black community. TULiP would begin as an index of Black physicians in New Jersey. Eventually, other healthcare providers and initiatives would be added. Involving Black community members in the development of this platform is essential for developing a racially and culturally sensitive understanding of a patients’ needs and improving the quality of healthcare provided.
Written in collaboration with the Ramapough Lunaape Nation Turtle Clan, Our Land, Our Stories tells the story of racial and environmental injustice. It documents contested narratives around the site’s contamination by Ford, leading to its listing as the Ringwood Mines Superfund Site. Unearthing stories that have been buried alongside the dangerous chemicals that remain deep in the soil, the project counters the processes of erasure that have made the continuing presence of Indigenous peoples invisible to many.
Read the newly published paper by the Rutgers Center for Women and Work, including Labor Studies and Employment Relations Professor and BBBH Seed Grantee Yana van der Meulen Rodgers in the Forum for Social Economics Journal.
The paper examines changes in occupational crowding of immigrant women in frontline industries in the United States during the onset of COVID-19, and we contextualize their experiences against the backdrop of broader race-based and gender-based occupational crowding.
The paper by Black Bodies, Black Health Project Leads Michelle Stephens and Enobong (Anna) Branch, and BBBH Project Manager Candace King is scheduled to be published in the Oxford University Press Culture of Health Series in late 2023.
We held the culminating event of the Black Bodies, Black Health Project — an 18-month research study at Rutgers University sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on racial health disparities — on Friday, June 2. The roundtable was at capacity and featured around 70 attendees including project leads Michelle Stephens and Anna Branch, our BBBH seed grantees, the project steering committee, Institute staff and other Rutgers guests, and external community leaders and stakeholders.
We presented the key takeaways and research outcomes of this project, and welcomed feedback and responses from our stakeholders, both internal to Rutgers and from the broader community.
Through seed grants, workshops, conferences, and both scholarly and public writing, our goal was to build an inter-disciplinary conversation with this signature project, and to incentivize humanists, social scientists, and biomedical researchers to engage in interdisciplinary work to explore and unpack structural racism in service of creating equitable health outcomes.
This 3-day conference featured in-depth engagement with scholars in the broad field of race and health and a mix of speakers and group discussions focusing on racial health disparities and achieving health equity. The conference culminated in the Presidential Keynote by sitting Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway titled "Mapping Value: The Material Consequences of Structural Racism."
Click here to learn more about the conference.
Watch the Conference On-Demand here.
Welcome: "Centering the Black Body" by Black Bodies, Black Health Project Leads Dr. Michelle Stephens and Dr. Anna Branch
“To Wash the Ethiope: The Treatment of Black Bodies” by Dr. Patricia Akhimie
“Racism and Structural Racism Undermine the Public Health: What Research Evidences” by Dr. Perry Halkitis
Presidential Keynote | “Mapping Value: The Material Consequences of Structural Racism” by Dr. Jonathan S. Holloway, Rutgers President and University Professor
Developing a shared language about race
This virtual workshop held on March 30th, 2022, brought a multi-disciplinary group of seed grantees together with humanistic scholars to begin the process of envisioning inter-disciplinary thinking and collaboration in the study of health inequities and the reification of race. BBBH seed grantees met to discuss their projects and develop further a shared vocabulary regarding race and race-thinking across their multiple disciplinary locations and methodologies.
Speakers: Patricia Akhimie, Assoc. Prof., English SASN (NWK); Derrick Darby, Dist. Prof. Philosophy SAS (NB); Frank Edwards, Asst. Prof., School of Criminal Justice (NWK), ISGRJ Early Career Faculty Fellow; Melinda Gonzalez, Postdoc Assoc., Sociology-Anthropology SASN (NWK), ISGRJ Post Doc; Keith Green, Assoc. Prof., Africana Studies FAS CMD, ISGRJ Senior Fellow; Jennifer Mittelstadt, Prof, History SAS (NB); Charles Senteio, Asst. Prof., School of Communication and Information (SCI), NB.
Watch the highlight video of the workshop