By Karen Stokes
The Social Development Commission (SDC) is launching a research project through its newly formed Institute on Poverty and Structural Racism, that will examine the impact of structural racism on Milwaukee’s African American community.
The project, named Dismantling Racism Invigorating Equity (D.R.I.V.E.), a two-year project, is being funded with a $200,000 grant from the Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment.
D.R.I.V.E. will be supported by a collaboration between researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“This is actually a long time coming,” said Jennifer Harris, research and policy manager at SDC. “SDC by mandate is a creature of state, city and county statute that calls for our commission to research, analyze and recommend solutions to societal issues, especially the issues impacting the individual groups who live in and experience poverty.”
In 2019, a resolution was signed in Milwaukee County declaring racism a public health crisis that affects society as a whole.
“This research is taking the next step and using the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparity research framework model to pinpoint what discrimination actually looks like in Milwaukee County,” Harris said.
Harris remarked that the study is groundbreaking due to most studies concerning racism looks at the individual impact. Their project looks at neighborhood and community impact of systemic racism and discrimination.
The study will be conducted with adults living in the inner city of Milwaukee that receive services from SDC. Participants will have a survey they will complete on topics such as living environment and bio metrics (height, weight and blood pressure).
The data will be used to assess the effectiveness of the commission’s programming and develop policy recommendations that can be shared with local officials.
“We’re hoping that we provide the type of research that other researchers across the nation will want to do, which is going to be more actionable in its nature,” said Dr. George P. Hinton, CEO of SDC. “The research is going to help us look at issues that will then be examined on how we can transform systems and processes and think about how we can impact poverty in a different way.”