The 2023 Black History Month Research Series returned this month with a host of virtual workshops that examined research within an anti-racism framework. This collaborative project, which officially launched last year, was created by and is co-hosted by UNC’s Global Social Development Innovations (GSDI) and INSPIRED Lab. The series brought together thought-provoking and innovative ideas, procedures and research findings that address persisting disparities and inequities. Free and open to the public, the series showcased research from UNC social work faculty and doctoral students, as well as invited presentations from external scholars.
The month-long event kicked off on Feb. 8, with Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, Ph.D., a family physician, epidemiologist and Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London. Dr. Jones presented on the topic “Confronting Racism Denial: Naming Racism and Moving to Action.”
Jones’ work focuses on naming, measuring, and addressing the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of our nation and the world. Her allegories on “race” and racism illuminate topics that are otherwise difficult for many Americans to understand or discuss: that racism exists, racism is a system, racism saps the strength of the whole society, and we can act to dismantle racism.
Jones’ presentation was co-sponsored by UNC School of Medicine Center for Health Equity Research and the Equity Research Action Coalition at UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.
The remaining workshops were hosted virtually each week and offered participants free continuing education credits for each session attended.
Links to recorded presentations are provided below.
Black History Month Research Series
Feb. 8, 2023: Confronting Racism Denial: Naming Racism and Moving to Action
Speaker: Camara Phyllis Jones, M.D., MPH, Ph.D. is a family physician and epidemiologist who is currently a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London. Her work focuses on naming, measuring, and addressing the impacts of racism on the health and well-being of our nation and the world. Her allegories on “race” and racism illuminate topics that are otherwise difficult for many Americans to understand or discuss—that racism exists, racism is a system, racism saps the strength of the whole society, and we can act to dismantle racism. Dr. Jones has held faculty positions at Harvard and Emory Universities, and Morehouse School of Medicine. She was a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard, and a Presidential Visiting Fellow at the Yale School of Medicine. She is also an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a past president of the American Public Health Association. Dr. Jones earned a Bachelor of Arts in Molecular Biology from Wellesley College, an M.D. from the Stanford University School of Medicine and both her Master of Public Health and her Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Moderator: Trenette Clark Goings, Ph.D., Sandra Reeves Spear and John B. Turner Distinguished Professor of Social Work, UNC School of Social Work
Feb. 15, 2023: Racial Disparities in HIV Prevention and Care: Moving to Action
• Latoya Small, Ph.D., MSW, is an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on health disparities, specifically regarding mental health and treatment engagement among women and children living with HIV in the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the United States., Small examines how systemic barriers to care, poverty-related stress, and mental health interact and relatedly impact HIV treatment engagement among Black and Latina women in urban communities.
• Sylvia Shangani, Ph.D., MPH, Sc.M., is a public health behavioral scientist and assistant professor at Boston University. Her expertise centers on health disparities, HIV prevention strategies, and the implementation of community-engaged public health interventions. Her current research focuses on understanding the underlying behavioral and social risk factors for health disparities, with applications to HIV. Sylvia earned her Ph.D. and ScM, both in behavioral and social health science, from Brown University School of Public Health.
• Kemesha Gabiddon, Ph.D., MPH, is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of South Florida. Her academic training is in public health and her scholarly expertise is in the area of intersectional stigma, youth sexual health, health promotion, disease prevention, and the use of qualitative and mixed methodological approaches.
Moderator: Rainier Masa, Ph.D., Associate Professor, UNC School of Social Work
Feb. 20, 2023: Women, Maternal, and Child Health Disparities: Moving to Action
• Arden Handler, Dr.PH, is director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health and professor of community health sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Her research career reflects her long-standing commitment to reducing inequities and improving the health of women, pregnant and postpartum persons, children, and families. Her research investigates factors that increase the risk for inequities in adverse pregnancy outcomes and how prenatal, postpartum and well-woman care can ameliorate risks and reduce inequities. Handler is a former member of the federal Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality.
• Millicent N. Robinson, Ph.D., MSW, MPH, is an interdisciplinary scholar, consultant, and certified practitioner of Reiki Therapy. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the UNC School of Social Work through the Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity, where her research centers the stress, coping, healing, and health experiences of Black women. More specifically, her research investigates the biopsychosocial mechanisms that shape the mind-body connection and related mental and physical health outcomes among Black women. A triple Tar Heel, Robinson earned degrees in psychology, social work and public health all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Moderator: Gina Chowa, Ph.D., Johnson-Howard-Adair Distinguished Professor, UNC School of Social Work
Feb. 22, 2023:Transforming Institutional Practices that Harm Black Families: Moving to Action
• Darcey Merritt, Ph.D., is a professor with Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice at the University of Chicago. Merritt’s empirical scholarship is meaningfully informed by her vast experience as a practitioner in private and public child welfare systems. Her research centers on child maltreatment prevention, specifically neglect, and parenting in socio-economic contexts. She is dedicated to elevating the voices of systems-impacted parents and children in the discussion of prevention methods and service delivery. Her research has been published extensively. Merritt received her Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College with concentrations in sociology and psychology and earned her MSW and Ph.D. in social welfare from the Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare, University of California, Los Angeles.
• Shereen A. White, J.D., is director of Advocacy and Policy Work, Children’s Rights, New York City. White joined Children’s Rights in 2019 and in 2021 transitioned from litigation to lead CR’s advocacy work, focusing on reimagining systems impacting youth and families. Previously, she worked on special education matters with the Philadelphia School District and as a child advocate at the Defender Association of Philadelphia. White earned a J.D. from Villanova Law School and a B.A. in political science from Duke University.
Moderator: Ramona Denby-Brinson, Ph.D., Dean and Wallace H. Kuralt Distinguished Professor, UNC School of Social Work