Blog Post
Photo of Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones during the workshop.

Workshop – Confronting Racism Denial: Tools for Naming Racism and Moving to Action

May 31, 2022

Racism is a major driver of health inequities in the United States. For most of our 30 years, Healthforce Center at UCSF has been working to advance health equity by building pipelines of diverse health leaders, strengthening the cultural competency of clinicians, and centering equity in quality improvement efforts.

To recognize our decades of work on these issues, and to put a spotlight on the persistence of racism’s effects on people's health, we hosted a special event for our 30th anniversary. This workshop — hosted by Healthforce Center at UCSF in partnership with the California Improvement Network (CIN) and Cedars-Sinai Managing to Leading (M2L) — focused on naming racism as an essential tool for moving to action to advance racial health equity.

In the recording below, hear remarks from Healthforce Director Sunita Mutha, MD, on why this work is crucial and how Healthforce Center, and its partners, are advancing health equity. Then learn from Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD, a family physician, epidemiologist, past president of the American Public Health Association, and current UCSF Presidential Chair, about strategies for dismantling racism in health care.

This workshop was intended for health and social services leaders (broadly defined as those contributing to the health of communities) who want to better understand how racism impacts health and well-being and who are eager to take positive actions to combat the negative health impacts of racism.


Achieving racial equity requires (1) valuing all individuals and populations equally, (2) recognizing and rectifying historical injustices, and (3) providing resources according to need.

Racism is a huge roadblock to achieving racial equity in the United States, yet many people are in staunch denial of its continued existence and its profoundly negative impacts on the health and well-being of the nation. Even those who acknowledge that racism exists sometimes feel ill-equipped to say the word “racism” out loud or take action to address it.

In this workshop, Dr. Jones shared allegories, definitions, frameworks, and analytic tools for understanding and acting on four key messages:

  1. Racism exists.
  2. Racism is a system.
  3. Racism saps the strength of the whole society.
  4. We can act to dismantle racism.

This 2.5-hour workshop was divided into three segments:

  • Framing the work: Anti-racism as a legitimate health intervention
  • Naming racism: Communication tools for confronting racism denial
  • Moving to action: Levers for intervention and the power of collective action

Dr. Jones inspired participants to engage in a sustained National Campaign Against Racism, recognizing that anti-racism is a process with three sequential yet iterative tasks: (1) name racism, (2) ask “How is racism operating here?”, and (3) organize and strategize to act.

What can we do today to identify how racism is operating in our midst? Six actions for every day:

  1. Look for evidence of two-sided signs.
  2. Burst through our bubbles to experience our common humanity.
  3. Be interested / Believe / Join in the stories of others.
  4. See “the absence of.”
  5. Reveal inaction in the face of need.
  6. Know that collective action is power.

— Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones

Watch the recording of the workshop here:

Download the PDF of the workshop handout.

Download the PDF of the workshop slides.

About the Workshop Supporters

This workshop was hosted by Healthforce Center at UCSF in partnership with the California Improvement Network (CIN) and the Cedars-Sinai Managing to Leading (M2L) program. CIN is a project of the California Health Care Foundation and managed by Healthforce Center at UCSF. M2L is sponsored by Cedars-Sinai and managed by Healthforce Center.

Healthforce Center is dedicated to helping health care organizations drive and navigate change. This workshop celebrated Healthforce Center’s 30th anniversary. For three decades, we have been committed to advancing health equity, developing health leaders, and examining the health care workforce in support of more effective health care and more equitable health outcomes. Learn more about Healthforce Center.

The California Improvement Network (CIN) is a community of health care professionals committed to identifying and spreading ideas for better primary care delivery. Learn more about CIN and join the network.

The Managing to Leading (M2L) program is a transformative leadership development program for mid-level clinicians and administrative staff from eligible community health centers in Los Angeles. Learn more about M2L.