Report: Chatham more aware of discrimination in 2018

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 4/26/19

Among the myriad of statistics and analysis published in the 2018 Chatham County Community Assessment can be found a single statistic about how Chathamites view one another.

The authors of the …

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Report: Chatham more aware of discrimination in 2018

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Among the myriad of statistics and analysis published in the 2018 Chatham County Community Assessment can be found a single statistic about how Chathamites view one another.

The authors of the assessment asked Chatham residents how they felt about the following statement: “People of all races, ethnicities, backgrounds and beliefs in my community are treated fairly.”

In 2014, the question was asked, and just 14 percent of respondents disagreed with the answer in some way. In 2018, with a slightly different methodology, the question was asked, and 26.8 percent of respondents disagreed.

Shannon Kincaide Godbout, a policy research associate with the Chatham County Health Department who helped author the assessment, referenced differing methodologies in the reports — the 2018 survey had a “neutral” answer and said sampling procedures were altered — but said the difference “is certainly important to note.”

For Ilana Dubester, the founder and executive director of El Vinculo Hispano in Siler City, she was glad to see the number rising.

“The change might come from greater awareness in terms of greater public debate and conversation around equality that maybe makes people more aware of the face that everybody does not have the access that white people do,” Dubester said. “The national discourse has made it more blatantly clear the disparities that minorities are facing in our society.”

Kincaide Godbout said ethnic and racial disparities beyond the perceptions of racism and discrimination exist in the county, particularly when it comes to “well-being and health outcomes.”

“While exact measurements of discrimination are difficult, it is important to recognize the impacts of institutional processes can create exclusions that can be passively accepted as norms,” the report said. “Communication, transparency and representation are all components of a health, thriving community, identified by community members of color. People want care, but they also want assurance that they will be supported and respected as they navigate local systems.”

The report also outlined disparities in other statistics on the basis of race. For example, 11.6 percent of whites live in poverty in Chatham, compared to 22.6 percent of African-Americans and 32.3 percent of Hispanic/Latinx individuals. The infant mortality rate, defined as number of infant deaths per 1,000, is 9.8 for whites, 22.6 for Hispanics and 26.7 for African-Americans in Chatham County.

Kincaide Godbout said the CCCA intentionally broke down some statistics by race, income, education and more “to highlight that issues affect different populations differently.”

“This acknowledgment is meant to be a starting point from which to examine why these disparities exist and what can be done to eliminate them,” she said. “These disparities are not unique to Chatham, as many of the underlying causes result from broad discriminatory policies and practices, but work can certainly be done at the local level to promote and work toward equity.”

The Chatham Health Alliance, which partnered with the Chatham County Health Department to develop the assessment, has an Equity Subcommittee which has been formed to work on these issues. Jan Wilson, one of the members, told the News + Record that the group is still in the formation stages and is beginning its work.

“The Alliance has chosen three target priorities to focus on: Comprehensive Health and Mental Health, Obesity and Poverty,” Wilson said. “Eventually, the Equity Committee will be working with all three of the Subcommittees as the issues of equity range across everyday life. At this point, we are just starting to create what that will look like.”

Wilson added it will be three to four months before the full development of a strategic plan.


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