University of Minnesota gets millions to establish ‘antiracism research’ center

A specific goal of the antiracism center is to change “the narrative about race and racism to one that does not hold up whiteness as the ideal standard for human beings.”

Rachel Hardeman, founding director of the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity. (University of Minnesota School of Public Health/YouTube)

The University of Minnesota was given $5 million to build and implement an “antiracism research center” whose focus will be on “structural racism” training and research.

According to a Feb. 24 announcement from the U of M, the insurance company Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota donated $5 million to the university’s School of Public Health in an effort to establish the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity.

As reported initially by Campus Reform, the antiracism research center will be dedicated to “addressing and uprooting structural racism’s impact on health and health care,” the announcement reads.

An information sheet from the school explains that antiracism research is grounded in the belief that racism — which is something experienced throughout a person’s entire life and does not occur only in “isolated incidents,” they say — is a leading cause of health care inequities.

Rachel Hardeman, an associate professor at the school, is credited with forming the vision for the center and will be its first director.

“Racism is a fundamental cause of health inequities,” Hardeman said. “Among other things, antiracist research requires that we lift up the voices of those closest to the pain, and it reframes research questions that often begin with the premise that there is something wrong with Black and brown people that makes them sick,” she noted, referring to the example of COVID-19 death rates among races.

“What are the potential systems or policies that are rendering Black and brown communities more susceptible to this disease?” she asked.

Specific goals of the antiracism center include changing “the narrative about race and racism to one that does not hold up whiteness as the ideal standard for human beings” and creating “authentic community engagement” by bringing together researchers and citizens to discuss the “root causes of racial health inequities.”

Researchers for the center will engage in antiracist research on “police violence, reproductive health, health care delivery, and other areas where racism impedes health.”

The center aims to provide training on structural racism for students, professionals, and community members, and bring about “real action for change.”

Craig Samitt, president at Blue Cross, said he believes their donation will provide a way to “advance health equity and dismantle racism from the structure and fabric of our society.”


Rose Williams

Rose Williams is an assistant editor for Alpha News.