Special Issue: Racism's Impact on Health
April 2021 is a Month of Power! 
By Rev Kirsten Peachey
Vice President, Faith Outreach, Mission and Spiritual Care

Many religious traditions celebrate holy days this month, so around the world people are being fed by the teachings and practices of their spiritual traditions that call us to live more deeply, love more boldly, and connect more intentionally to the Source that guides us.

This month, Christians are celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus, recognizing the power of God’s love to vanquish oppression and evil. Muslims will be fasting, studying, and praying during Ramadan. This is a practice of self-discipline, sacrifice and empathy for those who are suffering, encouraging acts of generosity and charity. Jews spend seven days observing the pesach or Passover, remembering how God brought them out of captivity and bondage into freedom and new hope. In the Baha’i faith, members celebrate Ridvan, recognizing the moment that their promised one, Baha’u’llah, declared his holy status and asked his followers to obey his teachings of love, generosity and kindness toward all. Hindus and Sikhs are observing Vaisakhi, a celebration of the spring harvest and the new year, and a time of community building, generosity, cleansing and renewal.

That’s a lot of spiritual activity in one month, and we need it! There are many challenges that we face as a country and in our local communities that need the wisdom and guidance of our religious traditions.

This month, Advocate Aurora Health is embarking on a Month of Understanding, challenging ourselves to take up the work of becoming an antiracist organization. Over the next weeks, we will engage in conversations in our departments and teams that help us learn about each other and push us to move out of our comfort zones to be more active in challenging racism, however it is showing up.

As the department within Advocate Aurora Health that considers health and well-being through a faith lens, we invite you into a conversation with us about this. Racism is a public health crisis and is at the root of all of the health inequities that cause poor health for people in our communities. We cannot get to the root and create a new way of being together without that spiritual power that lives in faith communities.

We acknowledge that antiracism work is a journey and we will always be on the way, connecting with our spiritual resources to give us the wisdom and courage to create the world that reflects the justice and compassion of the Holy One. Because it’s a journey, we don’t have to have all the answers today. But it is important to get started and to be bold in whatever it is that we are doing.

Here are five actions that we are committing ourselves to during this Month of Understanding and beyond.

  1. Make a public commitment to antiracism work. If we say it out loud, we are more likely to integrate that commitment into everything we do. Advocate Aurora Health has joined with other health care systems to publicly denounce racism as a public health crisis.
  2. Come closer. When we know each other better, we are called into solidarity with each other. We are using a variety of tools to have those conversations.
  3. Stick with it. This is not a quick fix. Embrace the length of the journey, live in grace, ask for forgiveness, keep trying. Advocate Aurora Health is doubling down on its commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across our system. We are in it for the long run.
  4. Claim our power. As people of faith, we have the power of God, the Spirit, Allah, Source or whatever name you use for the Holy One, to be a voice for justice, peace and hope. We look to the wisdom of our faith traditions to give us the courage and inspiration for this work. Find a sample of faith-rooted resources below.
  5. Rest. Hard things take a lot of energy and can be painful. Be sure to protect yourself, step away, pray and connect with your God, laugh, be with people you love and who love you, sleep.

The resources in this newsletter are ones that we will be using in our antiracism work and that we thought might be of value to you in your own racial justice journey, as well. We know that many of you have been leading these kinds of conversations and activities for years, so we are humble in what we offer and open to what others have to share. If you have a resource that you would like to share with others or if you have ideas about other ways we move together to dismantle racism, please click here to let us know 
Advocate Aurora Health's Commitment to Action
The Advocate Aurora Health 2020 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Impact Report is now available.

From supporting minority and women-owned businesses through our supply chain purchasing efforts to addressing health inequities by mobilizing free flu shot clinics and providing COVID-19 education in under-resourced areas, we answered the call to keep our communities healthy during this challenging year. But we won’t stop here. We’ll continue to focus on raising the bar to advance how we lead, who we are, who we will become and how we can better meet the needs our communities.

Advocate Aurora Health Observes CEO Action's Day of Understanding
Advocate Aurora Health President and CEO, Jim Skogsbergh, is joining CEOs and leaders from nearly 2,000 other organizations to continue critical conversations around diversity, equity and inclusion, as part of the 'Month of Understanding,' hosted by CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion

Throughout April, Advocate Aurora Health will host candid conversations around Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and share CEO Action materials with Advocate Aurora Health team members. Among its objectives: Demonstrate the healthcare organization’s dedication to making Advocate Aurora Health a trusted workplace to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about DEI.
Advocate Aurora Health joins 38 health systems in declaring racism a public health crisis
Advocate Aurora Health has publicly reiterated its commitment to dismantling structural racism and reversing its negative effects on the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

As a member of the Healthcare Anchor Network, a national collaboration of leading health care systems, Advocate Aurora joined 38 other health institutions across 45 states and Washington, D.C. in formally recognizing racism as a public health crisis. This reflects a national amplification of a similar statement and call to action that Advocate Aurora issued in June alongside three dozen of our Chicago-area health system peers.


April 16, noon

During the COVID-19 pandemic, violence against Asian Americans increased significantly. Racial tensions continue to run high. What does that mean for the future of our churches and neighborhoods?

Join us for a discussion about how Christians and their churches can confront hatred and seek the flourishing of their diverse communities. A dynamic panel of seasoned Asian American pastors and leaders will guide our discussion.

  • Tues., April 27 and May 4, 11:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
  • Wed., April 28 and May 5, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
  • Sat., May 1 and May 8, 10:00 a.m.-noon

Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) is providing opportunities for Participants who have completed at least THREE previous Racial Healing Circles to continue the healing process.

Solidarity circles are an opportunity to create and build trust between participants and communities that will often serve as the foundation for other work related to racial equity and healing – e.g., changing inequitable and systemic laws and policies. Each circle consists of both group interactions and smaller, more intimate conversations between two partners. The circles are led by two TRHT trained racial healing practitioners.

Begins on May 25, from 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Takes place on the 4th Tuesday of the month through Oct. 26. (May 25, June 22, July 27, Aug. 24, Sept. 28, Oct. 26)

Let’s face it. It’s been a tough year. You may be questioning what it means to be a religious and spiritual leader during times of stress and crisis. You may feel like you are being asked to walk on water, lead through a wilderness and do the impossible.

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Educators from Advocate Aurora Health invite you to an opportunity to reflect on our times and what it means to be a leader. Sessions will allow you to reflect on your practice as a faith leader, get ideas and input, try something new and continue learning, feeling and moving into these issues thoughtfully and safely.
This program will use the CPE model of action, reflection, and adjustment, but previous CPE experience is not required.

Take Action

Please note: use password: DiversityMatters to access workshops.

Check Your Blind Spots, Perspective Matters. The Perspective Matters videos give employees the opportunity to see multiple points of views and ways unconscious biases are revealed in everyday life. Offered in standard video, 360 view and virtual reality, employees are given the opportunity to see ethnic biases shown in different ways while viewing these three short scenarios.

Check Your Blind Spots, Face Yourself, Face Reality. Through a series of short, one minute videos, employees have the opportunity to explore different backgrounds, identify common themes, challenge their reactions and examine what may make them uncomfortable and why.

Listening Session Guide. Designed with your leadership in mind, use this guide and leading practices to help develop your organization’s listening sessions and help start the discussion of those often difficult D&I topics.

Real-Talk Dialogue Podcast: Episode 4 - Microaggressions. Looking to help broaded individual perspectives and increase awareness, this episode focuses on microaggressions. Joined by Dr. Kevin Nadal, Tiffany Alvoid and Archana Gilravi, listen in as they dive deeper into what a microaggression is and how, even though often times subtle, over time, microaggressions can lead to performance issues and have serious affects on a persons well-being and health. This podcast and accompanying discussion guide are for you and your employees to listen to and continue the dialogue.

Poor People's Jubilee Platform: A Moral Policy Agenda to Heal and Transform America

The Poor People's Campaign is advocating that policies from its Jubilee Platform take precedence during the first 50-100 days of the new administration and 117th Congress.

The Platform's 14 policy priorities include:

  • enacting comprehensive, free and just COVID-19 relief
  • guaranteeing quality health care for all, regardless of any preexisting conditions
  • raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour immediately
  • guaranteeing quality housing for all

MuslimARC invites you to take the #SacredPledge and receive MuslimARC tools to #ResistRacism.

The pledge reads, in part:

  • I pledge to keep my heart open. I will resist disregard with thoughtfulness.
  • I pledge to seek knowledge. I will resist ignorance with understanding.
  • I pledge to lend a hand. I will resist scarcity with generosity.
  • I pledge to care. I will resist apathy with concern.
  • I pledge to reflect, learn, engage, and support. I will resist uncertainty with resolve.

The pledge includes:
  • Working to dismantle racial injustice by listening to voices, experiences and the expertise of people of color. Learn about the ELCA ethnic-specific associations and their strategies.
  • Learning the history of systemic racism in this country and the ways racism and white supremacy impact every aspect of our life together.
American Public Health Association Resources

See additional APHA Racism and Health resources here.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Resources

"A Just Society: Supporting Health of All" Series:

Jewish Racial Justice Resources

Resources for Jewish organizations that are interested in applying a racial-justice lens to their work, both internally and externally, in terms of educational opportunities, policies and practices and more. Learn more.
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative Resources

MuslimARC is committed to providing critical resources to building interfaith and multiracial coalitions to advance racial justice. Resources currently include articles, audiovisual recordings, toolkits, papers, research, khutbahs, reading lists, an anti-racism glossary, a directory of experts, and more. Learn more.
National Council of Churches Resources

A.C.T. Now to End Racism Initiative of the National Council of Churches urges the NCC, its members and partners to Awaken to the many manifestations of white supremacy and racism especially in the church, to Confront the need for change, and to work to Transform church and society into a reflection of the inclusive and equitable reign of God.
Related Reading

"I define racism as a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources."

Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD, is adjunct professor at Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University; a senior fellow and adjunct associate professor at Morehouse School of Medicine, and a family physician and epidemiologist whose work focuses on the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of the nation.