Grow, Gift, Repair

April Study Group: Understanding the Harm from Racism & War on Drugs

Racial Justice Study Group April Exercise : Understanding the Harm from Racism & War on Drugs

Exercise: Write a letter in support of Racial Justice for Health Equity


Racial justice is generally linked with economic development with general public, bypassing acknowledgement of racism and supporting move now and never again action. We want to broaden the conversation of racial justice to include healing justice. 


Step 1: Write a letter in advocacy of healing justice for Black and brown communities disproportionately impacted by systemic racism from the War on Drugs. Letter should clearly include:

  • Use resources provided to help draw conclusions and provide sources to cite. Within this letter use City of Cambridge as an example of racial justice by successfully passing racial justice policies for a racial equity commission, racial equity fund using cannabis tax revenue, reparations fund using cannabis tax revenue, and soon a reparations commission. Can also mention city of Boston reparations commission.
  • At least one statistic of MA racial health inequities (can use sources provided or an alternative source)
  • Highlight ways to get active by:

Join us for Earthday event for racial justice: 

Registering to learn more at

Step 2: Find local news outlets: local newspapers, podcasts, and radio stations. Identify contact name and email address for submitting opinions. Make sure to include Black owned/led news outlets within your local search.

Step 3: Review letter at next Racial Justice Study Group meeting and then submit to local news outlet as opinion piece.

Recommended Reading Sources:

Definitions to review:

Racial Justice

  1. The systematic fair treatment of people of all races, resulting in equitable opportunities and outcomes for all. Racial justice—or racial equity—goes beyond “anti-racism.” It is not just the absence of discrimination and inequities, but also the presence of deliberate systems and supports to achieve and sustain racial equity through proactive and preventative measures.
  2. Operationalizing racial justice means reimagining and co-creating a just and liberated world and includes:
  • understanding the history of racism and the system of white supremacy and addressing past harms,
  • working in right relationship and accountability in an ecosystem (an issue, sector, or community ecosystem) for collective change,
  • implementing interventions that use an intersectional analysis and that impact multiple systems,
  • centering Blackness and building community, cultural, economic, and political power of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), and
  • applying the practice of love along with disruption and resistance to the status quo.


  1. Race Forward, “Race Reporting Guide” (2015).
  2. Maggie Potapchuk, “Operationalizing Racial Justice in Non-Profit Organizations” (MP Associates, 2020). This definition is based on and expanded from the one described in Rinku Sen and Lori Villarosa, “Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens: A Practical Guide” (Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity, 2019).

Racial Equity

  1. Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities, not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes, and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or that fail to eliminate them.
  2. “A mindset and method for solving problems that have endured for generations, seem intractable, harm people and communities of color most acutely, and ultimately affect people of all races. This will require seeing differently, thinking differently, and doing the work differently. Racial equity is about results that make a difference and last.”


  1. Center for Assessment and Policy Development.
  2. OpenSource Leadership Strategies.


The systematic subjugation of one social group by a more powerful social group for the social, economic, and political benefit of the more powerful social group. Rita Hardiman and Bailey Jackson state that oppression exists when the following 4 conditions are found:

  • the oppressor group has the power to define reality for themselves and others,
  • the target groups take in and internalize the negative messages about them and end up cooperating with the oppressors (thinking and acting like them),
  • genocide, harassment, and discrimination are systematic and institutionalized, so that individuals are not necessary to keep it going, and
  • members of both the oppressor and target groups are socialized to play their roles as normal and correct.