Listening, Learning and Acting to Address Racism and Transform Health Care

Standing by our communities in support of safety, equity and equality for all.

By Peggy Maguire, President, Cambia Health Foundation
Listening, Learning and Acting to Address Racism and Transform Health Care
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
– Maya Angelou

Just a few short months ago, I shared Cambia’s philanthropic response to COVID-19.  Based on our pre-pandemic work to combat health disparities, we anticipated that socioeconomic fallout of the disease would disproportionately impact marginalized and underserved communities even though the disease itself does not recognize race or color.  We expressed our commitment to meet immediate community needs while also preparing for future phases of recovery and resilience. 

We did not anticipate our collective pain and outrage following the brutal killing of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer. 

The realities of the past few months have been sobering.  The pandemic has now killed more than 100,000 Americans with numerous statistics confirming our worst fears:  COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color at an astonishing scale.  The disease has also given rise to social and economic turmoil, putting millions of people out of work while exposing racism as a public health crisis that must be addressed.

If the scenes of despair, frustration, and anger we are seeing every day on social media and in the news have shown me anything, it’s that we must pay attention to the suffering of our neighbors and acknowledge the structural racism in our health care system and other institutions.   Black lives matter.  And, philanthropy has an important role to play in dismantling racism.  

This is a turning point – yet another call to action – that must not fade away.  Access to health care that is person-focused, economically sustainable and inclusive is, I believe, one of the most pressing social justice issues of our time.  We must move forward with compassion, humility, and a deep commitment to learning and doing what is necessary for systemic change to occur.  Health disparities are not inevitable; they are a symptom of a more insidious problem. 

Over the last five years, Cambia has philanthropically invested more than $15M to work towards an equitable society and to eliminate health disparities.  We have made progress, but there is so much more to do. 

To transform health care, we must acknowledge the trauma of systemic racism and work together to solve it.  Our three-phased approach to addressing our current public health crisis must include racial justice at its center.  We are committed to listening, learning and acting to address racism and transform health care through our philanthropy.

We will be challenged, challenge ourselves, and not shy away from being uncomfortable as we commit to our own role and responsibility to create lasting change.  Like everyone, we're on a learning curve and we're going to lean in to play a meaningful role in being a part of the solution.

Please join us, tell us your truths and, together, we will shape a just and inclusive health care system.
In partnership,

Peggy Maguire
President, Cambia Health Foundation