Over the last five years, networks of BCR partners across the country have been working together to build community resilience by addressing and mitigating the Pair of ACEs. This guide is an outgrowth of the experiences of these communities as our work together has emphasized the importance of centering equity at the heart of what it means to be resilient.
This guide aims to help us collectively see the historical underpinnings of structural racism and the traumas and disparities that result and conduct constructive conversations that lead to policy change. The path to a Resilient Nation – one in which all our communities can not only ‘bounce back’ in the face of adversity, but thrive – must begin here.
This module presents background on the nearly 400-year history of American policy to explain the social, economic and health inequities we see in communities today. How can policies set in place more than 400 years ago inform outcomes we see in community today? In order to fully undo the effects of centuries of systemic racism, we have to understand the synergistic effect of policy across multiple sectors over time. Using data to illustrate the outcomes of public policy helps us better understand the vicious cycles that have been deliberately put in place and are not easily broken.
Module I demonstrates how policies designed with the explicit intent of racial oppression create inequities beyond racial lines and produce negative place-based and class-based outcomes in communities across the country. This means that inequity is no longer a concern for just some people, it is a concern for all. This module presents a framing that facilitates coalition building around a shared understanding of the past and present, thereby creating a firm foundation for transformational social justice change.
“Nothing about us, without us!” is a slogan used to communicate the idea that policy should not be created or implemented without full and direct participation of the people who will be affected. This is an important reminder that the path to equity runs straight through community. As such, Module III focuses on authentically engaging communities and stakeholders in the conversation. These strategies were compiled from the shared experiences of the Building Community Resilience collaborative over the past five years and are based on lessons learned from our work together.
This module provides examples of policy change that can advance equity and support healthy and resilient communities. Within each domain - housing, education, and law enforcement and criminal justice - we highlight key equity goals and provide concrete examples of policies that communities can pursue to achieve those goals.
Many resources beyond the scope of this guide exist to support individuals and organizations in navigating specific aspects of the work to heal trauma, foster equity and build community resilience. This section includes several tools and articles from the social justice and equity building fields that expand upon ideas and concepts from the Fostering Equity guide. This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point for deepening your work to build a resilient nation.
The Pair of ACEs
Adverse childhood experiences in the context of adverse community environments continuously assault the developing minds of children and negatively impact health across the lifespan. These negative impacts include higher risk for mental health problems, early initiation of drug and substance abuse, school dropout, juvenile delinquency, risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy. In Building Community Resilience, we understand that many adverse childhood experiences can be linked to policy and systems driven inequities. Many of these policies are driven by and reinforce institutional racism.The resulting inequities include lack of access to economic mobility that may allow families to secure safe and affordable housing and living wages.
Across the country, parents, families and communities face the challenge of achieving or maintaining good health in the face of daunting adversity. Childhood adversity or trauma such as abuse and neglect, parental substance abuse and incarceration, oftentimes are rooted in community environments lacking equity as measured by concentrated poverty, poor housing conditions, higher risk to violence and victimization, and homelessness. These inequitable community conditions provide little access to support or buffers that support resilience. Download What's Equity Got to Do With It?, a one-pager describing the relationship between trauma, equity, and resilience here.
Inequity By Design
Adverse community environments are the result of policies and practices across multiple systems that were perfectly designed for the place-based inequities they produce.Many of the nation’s poor live in communities of concentrated poverty not by choice, but rather by design – the cumulative result of social and criminal policies enacted over the course of our nation’s history. For example, federal policy and lending practices in the real estate industry in the early 20th century supported housing segregation – creating patterns of racial and economic segregation that persist today. These policies combined with the inequitable enforcement of policies across criminal justice (enforcement and incarceration) and public education (funding) also help to explain the place-based differences in who is arrested, length of incarceration and odds of completing high school and attaining higher education.