United Way presents virtual educational series on racial equity

New four-part program beginning July 15 will feature local experts leading conversations about racism and how it affects United Way’s work within the Basic Needs initiative


INDIANAPOLIS – To better understand the history of racial injustice in policies and how it affects communities of color today, United Way of Central Indiana is presenting a new four-part series, “Understanding the Roots of Racism in Food, Housing, Transportation and Health,” beginning with the first session on July 15 followed by other presentations on the third Wednesdays of each month in August, September and October.


“Understanding the Roots of Racism” will feature community experts in the fields of health, housing, food insecurity, and transportation – all focus areas within United Way’s Basic Needs strategy. Because racial disparities persist and result in disproportionate impacts for people of color, the goal of the series is to educate on inequalities and injustices in policy and action that create and perpetuate barriers to services, resources, and opportunities for Black Americans.


“Understanding the Roots of Racism” is free and open to the public. Click here to register for the series.


Understanding the Roots of Racism – A Four-Part Series


Wednesday, July 15
5-6 p.m.
Topic: Health
In June, the Indianapolis City-County Council unanimously declared racism a public health crisis. The data is well documented: Black people are more likely to die from cancer and suffer from chronic pain. Black mothers are more likely to die in childbirth. Black children report higher levels of stress. Panelists in this discussion, moderated by United Way’s Vice President of Impact Research & Analytics Denise Luster, will highlight the history of unethical health treatment and how discrimination drives health outcomes – infant mortality, life expectancy, and deadly diseases like COVID-19 – among Black adults and children. The discussion will include ways in which the public and private sectors are working together to improve health outcomes in communities of color.


Wednesday, Aug. 19
5-6 p.m.
Topic: Housing
Even though it has been more than 50 years since the passage of the landmark federal Fair Housing Act that abolished redlining, recent reports from the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana indicate significant levels of discrimination against African Americans. Speakers will help educate on the history of discriminatory practices as they relate to purchasing, renting and buying homes in our community, how historically city planning often displaced Black neighbors, the laws created over the years to protect people of color, and what effort still remains to create equal opportunities for all homeowners.


Wednesday, Sept. 16
5-6 p.m.
Topic: Food

African Americans are more than twice as likely to experience hunger and only 8% have a grocery store in their census tract. The USDA defines food insecurity as a “household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” Food insecurity in households with children causes adverse physical, social and psychological outcomes for the whole family, including greater risk for diabetes, hypertension, depression, stress and behavioral problems. And in Black populations, food insecurity is significantly higher than for whites. Learn more from our panelists about the work that needs to be done to continue dismantling racism in community food efforts.


Wednesday, Oct. 21
5-6 p.m.
Topic: Transportation

The struggle for people of color to access public transportation has a long history – from Frederick Douglass entering a train car reserved for white passengers in 1841 to the 20th century bus boycotts in the South which lead to landmark civil rights legislation. Transportation affects where we live, work, play and go to school, and it serves as a key issue in addressing poverty, unemployment, health care, and education. Join an important discussion about transportation and why it remains a civil rights issue in many communities.






About United Way of Central Indiana: United Way is a community of donors, advocates, volunteers, and partners who fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. United Way invites all members of our community to LIVE UNITED by giving, advocating and volunteering to improve lives in Central Indiana. Visit www.uwci.org to learn more.

Jennifer Hashem | Public Relations Manager, United Way of Central Indiana