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March 23, 2024 19 mins
Embrace Boston recently released its "Harm Report", a comprehensive look at how slavery and centuries of systemic racism against Black Bostonians has impacted seven key aspects of life, including housing, transportation, healthcare and income. The report also outlines suggestions from the team at Embrace Boston on how the city can move forward in a more equitable manner and address the harms against the Black community. Vice President of Arts and Culture Elizabeth Tiblanc and Director of Digital Strategy and Production Gregory Ball return to the show this week to talk with Nichole about the research that went into the report and provide an overview of the results.
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(00:07):
From WBZ News Radio in Boston.This is New England Weekend. Each week
we come together, we talk aboutall the topics important to you and the
place where you live. It's greatto be back with you again this week.
I'm Nicole Davis. The city ofBoston is deeply rich in culture and
history. Unfortunately, it's also farfrom immune to the impacts of racism.
Experts say. You see it todaythrough the stark disparities in housing and education,

(00:31):
and also when the inequities in incomeand healthcare access. In recent years,
Embrace Boston has been working to addressthese issues of systemic racism and also
take a deeper look at what hasto be done to move Boston forward in
a more equitable way. Just afew weeks back, Embrace Boston put out
its Harm Report. This is acomprehensive look at how racism has deeply impacted

(00:52):
seven key parts of life. Here, let's break down what the report has
to say. Elizabeth DeBlanc, thevice president of Arts and Culture at Embrace
Boston, is back us this week. So is Greg Ball, the director
of Digital Strategy and Production. Sogood to talk with you both again about
your work and have you here onNew England weekend. So let's kick this
off quickly, Elizabeth with an introductioninto what exactly Embrace Boston is for somebody

(01:15):
who might not be familiar. Absolutely, so, Embrace Boston is an organization
dedicated to racial equity and racial justicein Boston. We work at the intersection
of arts and culture and research andpolicy in order to address what we'll talk
about more the harms that are outlinedspecifically in the Harm Report and most specifically

(01:40):
leaning too the symbols and culture work. Yeah, a lot of people I
think would know Embrace Boston by theEmbrace. Let's talk about this report.
Gregory tell us a little bit aboutthe background of the report, Why does
Embrace Boston do this, and whatgoes up into doing it. Well,
the idea of the report was reallyto kind of to set to level set
the conversation into some of the systematicthings that we want to address as a

(02:02):
community. You know, the ideaof kind of basically doing the research and
the work so that we know weall have an idea of just exactly where
we're at. You know, there'sa feeling that we know these things from
an anecdotal space, you know thatwe know what we feel all of these
things. What we wanted to beable to kind of shift from that lens

(02:23):
and really get to a point tobe able to say, no, these
are the facts of what is goingon. That was a genesis in the
driving force behind the report itself.Yeah, there's a lot of systemic issues
in the city of Boston and reallyjust writ large that I think a lot
of people want to address. SoElizabeth, tell us about how you did
this report and what you were focusingon when you were gathering these metrics.

(02:46):
Originally, what Embraced Boston sought tolook at was to start from the national
perspective, right. It was almostthe starting point for us to really define
in Boston how black people have beenaffected by and what the consequences of systemic
racism has been and so and Cobrahas five injury areas and those five are

(03:12):
part of the seven that we've outlinedin the Harm Report. NARC also has
a pathway to in guidelines to reparationsand a more local place that we looked
at as well at the beginning isAmherst has a task force or had a
task force for reparations, and theydeveloped a Harm Report in order to do

(03:38):
their work, and so these werekind of the starting places and kind of
that knowledge around. If you're goingto offer ways in which to mitigate and
harm and also to offer repair andfeeling and forward moving work, then there
is this history and understanding that weneed to understand what the issues actually are,

(04:01):
where they stand, and what theylook like and how they've been carried
out from past to present. Andthen how did you do that research?
Tell me a little bit more aboutthat, what exactly did you utilize when
it comes to tools and people andthis and then the other thing. Right,
So this research was carried out throughresearchers that Embrace Boston had on staff

(04:26):
in twenty twenty two. It beganthere and then was kind of carried through
into these last couple of months withour most recent addition to Embrace Boston,
Jenny Lafour, who's our senior researchmanager. And so the work is The
Harm Report itself is a literature reviewof various reports that are that have been

(04:49):
done across the sector, across individualsectors within each harm area in order to
get an understanding and a dissecting ofall of the ways in which policy has
been built in which trends have goneforward, and so when we think about
the criminal legal system, some ofthat data was pulled right from public record

(05:12):
right and arrest records and trends thatwere released were released by Boston Public Departments.
And some of the other pieces weretaken from other reports as a literature
review. And so there's just anumber of references that are made across the
report for each of the individual harms, and so most of that data was

(05:35):
taken not only from history archives aswell to understand the history of the harms
right through the legalization of slavery inMassachusetts to the abolishment of slavery, through
segregation, integration, the bussing,crisis housing, all of these, the

(05:57):
COVID nineteen. So all of thesethis like years and years obviously in decades
and centuries of archival historical information andreports that have been released through twenty twenty.
That is a lot. It's alot of data. It's a lot
of work, good work that needsto be done. And so Gregor,
I mean, you went through allof this. You have these seven points

(06:19):
that you're focusing on in the report. Tell us what you found. We
found a lot of different things.I mean, it's kind of like you
said this a lot, so youdo you have two hours. It's kind
of hard. And then the wayI kind of like it it is that
with the Harm Report, it's almostlike we did everybody's home work for them,
so now we have the ability tokind of start having those conversations.

(06:42):
But we found things in terms ofyou know, in terms of representation,
in terms of the arts in publicspaces. We found some interesting things in
it in a variety of different areas. It's kind of hard to just laser
it down into one or two differentthings. But I think that anybody who
reads either the preamble that gives youa kind of a overview of the entire
report, or digs into the depthof the report, they're gonna find substantive

(07:04):
information that I think that that wecan build from. I think the beautiful
part about the report for me isthat it allows people to, like I
said to now they have understanding ofthe lay of the land, they understand
the playing field, and now theycan start to build along those lines.
And it's something that a variety ofpeople can can actually get into. So

(07:24):
you can be in the in thein the sphere of government and kind of
understand some of the impacts there,and then you can start to you know,
have ideations around how do we fixthese things in that space? And
you can be in a space ofthe arts and you can say, okay,
well, representation and counter narrative work, what are some of the things
that we can do there. Soit gives you kind of an understanding of

(07:45):
where things are at, and itcan it Actually we hope that it sparks
kind of the ability for people tostart to think towards the future and what
they can do to address these things. Yeah, there's a lot of work
being done, I think in Bostonto make it a more representative city for
everybody who lives here. But wasthere anything in the report? Actually I
was curious about this. Was thereanything that surprised you all that came out

(08:07):
of this reporter or was this allpretty much like, Okay, we knew
this was happening, but now thisis just like in writing in you know,
in a paper for people to actuallysee for us as a racial justice
organization, right rooted in thinking ofourselves as practitioners, as racial justice practitioners,
the findings weren't necessarily surprising, Iwould say, and that's mostly because

(08:33):
we do understand not only through livedexperience, but also through consciousness and our
knowledge building and our and our ownstudy across the organization that you know,
racism, especially anti black racism isis pretty standard in the way that we

(08:54):
live day to day and the waythat we exist in all spaces. I
would say that from me, thepieces around kind of in the health harm
area, the pieces around how COVIDrelated deaths connected to the realities of just

(09:18):
the things that you were predisposed to, and because young people especially suffered,
young Black children suffering from asthma ata higher rate in the city of Boston,
which is not different from other placesin the country, right, and
how that affected how people were becameill or taken care of. And again,

(09:41):
these weren't things that were necessarily surprisingto me, but it was important
for me to really think about theinterrelatedness of these things, right. And
so we've talked about how it's notjust a one issue, it's issues that
intersect all the time. And sowhen you think about somebody's health, a
child's health, a black child's healthin Boston, and you think about also

(10:05):
like access to housing and what housinglooks like for black children in Boston,
and it's not all black children inBoston, right, But we're really thinking
about what are the things that perpetuatechallenges and accessing housing that is at the
standard of living and care that shouldbe at like basic levels. Right.

(10:31):
And so if you're experiencing asthma,what is your environment? Right? And
if you're more if you're predisposed toit, what is your environment? What
the genetic things that are being againcarried down into families because of environment,
right, and these housing and thenhow that affects your health and then how

(10:54):
that affects and then also how you'retreated when you are, especially in a
global emergency like COVID nineteen, Right, how are you treated? How do
you access treatment? What is healthcarein a city that is one of the
top places in the country, rightto receive healthcare or for healthcare? What
does that actually look like and whathasn't historically looked like for Black Americans in

(11:20):
Boston And how did we see thatjust as recently in COVID nineteen So again
not necessarily surprised, but just reallypushed, you know, the thinking around
how these things are all interconnected,of course, and I would really be
curious Greig to know what the responsehas been so far collectively to the report.

(11:41):
Well, the response has been positive. You know, there's a lot
of people from different sectors are kindof reaching out and they're really happy about
the fact that again, like Iwas saying that now we have a starting
point and again you know, theseare conversations that have been going on for
years, and I think that nowdo we have this piece, this is
our contribution to it to kind ofdrive it a little bit further. But

(12:03):
the response has definitely been positive acrossthe board in terms of people appreciating the
work that have been done and kindof the laying out of those different spaces.
And I think that our hope isthat people will be able to look
at the report and to be ableto pull from it and to use that
in the spaces that are respective totheir areas. So there is you know,

(12:24):
there's different areas that we can theseven arms or spaces, those areas
you can address and you can ifyou're in those worlds, you can actually
use Now you have something to helpyou create your real maps and creating some
change. Yeah, I think thatsome people find it to be a bit
overwhelming when they see such a massiveproblem that stems back decades and centuries and
it's such an inherently deep issue thatwell, you know, individual people might

(12:48):
look at this, no matter ifthey're white or black or any other identification,
say how do I handle this?Like? How do I handle my
part in this? So I feellike this report is, like you said,
it's a good spring off point.And have you noticed that more people
are reaching out to help, volunteeror ask questions or get involved with Embraced
because of the report? Yeah,we definitely have had people who who have

(13:11):
reached out. And you know,it's interesting because we do have like are
a lot of the work that wedo, and the way that we approach
our work is really from a systemiclevel. So we're having people who are
involved in the very systems that wetalk about within the within the report,
who are actually reaching out and saying, hey, what are the ways that
we can help? And also thebeautiful part about what we try to do

(13:31):
as an organization is we try tobring people into the space. So like
you said it, you know,when you sit there to look at our
society and try to say, hey, I want to fix it, that
could be incredibly daunting. It's likeexactly to the point where you're like,
Okay, you know what, Iwas gonna fix it, but how about
I just go back in the house, you know what I mean. So
it's like I'm just leaving alone completely, and I think that what we what

(13:56):
the report does and it allows usto be able to spark those conversations and
also know that we're all in thefight together. But the reality is is
that you know, we start totalking about racial equity, it is not
a gift that is really given tothe Asian community, or to the Black
community, or to the Latino community. It's something that's all for our overall
benefit of us all. If we'reall thriving, all doing well, then

(14:18):
we all win. And that's reallywhat the approaching, the thought process is
has been of people who have beenreaching out to get more information from us,
who want to connect with us,who want to build with us as
we as we push on to thenext levels of the work that we're doing
and Embrace. I love it all. Right, So before we talk about
where people can find the report quickly, Elizabeth, what is going on in

(14:39):
Embrace right now? Do you haveany events coming up anything you want to
talk about. Definitely, definitely,we have plenty of events. We actually
are really excited because we've been workingtowards a season of activations and events,
and so our longest standing event,which we'll be in its kind of fourth
installment in June, is the EmbraceIdeas Festival, which will start on June

(15:01):
eighteenth and then close out on Junetwenty first at our annual Juneteenth Block Party.
So we're really looking forward to that. We'll be in the downtown area.
We're really excited to be taking upa space and inviting people in with
us at the block party, especiallyon the twenty first in downtown crossing so

(15:22):
many many more things to come thatthat's the most That's the thing that should
be on people's minds. And Greg, what are you working on over at
Embrace Ideas right now? So interms of what we're doing it with Embrace,
one of the things that I'm fortunateenough to be able to do is
I we have a podcast called GoodTrouble, and we also have a partnership
with some folks locally that we willbe actually helping to take the podcast to

(15:46):
the next level. We every yearwe do our series of films that we
have done Voices on King, whichwhere we bring folks from the community to
kind of speak about particularly each everyyear about issues that are affecting us all
and kind of inspired by the workof doctor King. This year's film was
we talked about entrepreneurship, people whoare working in the helping sector, and

(16:08):
then also storytelling. And we actuallywere fortunate enough to have somebody that's familiar
to your building, which was ReverendLiz Walker, who exactly for storytellers,
who's talked about her journey, andshe sat with LaToya Edwards and Jenny Austa
Health and really kind of talked abouthow things have changed from when Reverend Walker

(16:30):
was in place and when she was, you know, the first black woman
to anchor news in Boston, towhere LaToya is at and the work that
Jenny is doing with a beautiful resistancein the globe. So being able to
test those cross generational stories. Sothat's one thing that we're working on,
and we have a few other kindof narrative work that we're going to be
doing. There have a few morethings that are coming down the pike that

(16:51):
I can't tell you just yet,but if you come to the block party
and come have a good time,or any of our festival activities. I'll
keep it between you and me,all right, sounds like a plan.
I heard nothing, la la la. So where can people find out about
the report? Get a copy ofthe report? I'm going to share it
on our Facebook page, Facebook dotcom slash New England Weekend. But where
can people go to your website andget it as well? Yeah, if

(17:15):
you go on a website at Bracebostondot org, which is our website,
it's right there on the home page, you'll be able to connect with it
and be able to read that.In addition to that, you actually can
see some of our other research thatwe've been connected to as well. We
worked with Green Ribbon Commission that wetalked about kind of where things were from
an environmental standpoint. We also connectedwith Boston Indicators for a report that we

(17:37):
did about the popular the black populationin the Boston area called Great Migration to
Great Immigration. So those pieces arethere as well as in addition to our
current arm report. So those areall there. So we've been working in
that space a little bit and we'reexcited for folks to read it, and
you know, get excited and joinus in the work. Yeah, good

(18:00):
reading and Elizabeth of course, ifpeople want to get involved in the work,
if they want to learn more aboutEmbrace Boston, all the work you're
doing in all these different areas,how can they connect with you? Yeah,
so many places. Again I've Gregdescribed on our website. You also
can subscribe to our newsletter through ourwebsite as well. We're also on social
media on Instagram at Embrace Boss.We also have a Instagram for the monument,

(18:26):
which I believe is help I don'tknow, Embrace Monument, Adambrace Monument,
Okay, yep, yeah right,And we also are on YouTube adam
Braceboss as well, So across socialmedia platforms please, yeah, definitely follow
us and get in touch with us. Oh, and you can check out
our podcasts. This on all yourpodcast platforms, Spotify and all those other

(18:48):
things, and all those you canjoin in. And we have some incredible
conversation with change makers there right herein the city. So if you want
to learn about the people who aretrying to make the changes that we are
trying to implement or suggest from theharm Report, the Good Trouble podcast is
really where you get to know thosepeople and kind of hear the stories of
what their journeys were and how theygot into the idea of kind of chick

(19:10):
making the world a better place.Very cool, lots to take in here.
I love it. Thank you somuch for coming on the show again,
Gregory Ball, Elizabeth DeBlanc. Alwaysa pleasure. Thank you so much
for the work you're doing and foryour time here. Thank you for having
us. Have a safe and healthyweekend. Please join me again next week
for another edition of the show.I'm Nicole Davis from WBZ News Radio on iHeartRadio.
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