At Justice in Aging, we believe that no matter our race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, language, or country of origin, we should all be able to access the resources, services, and programs we need to thrive as we grow older.
For generations, systemic inequities and racism in health care, housing, and access to wealth and resources have kept those of us who are people of color, women, LGBTQ+, living with disabilities, immigrants, or limited English proficient from meeting our basic needs throughout our lives. And when we get older, our challenges become even greater due to the compounding effects of ageism.
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, it revealed just how deep these systemic inequities are. We saw disproportionate illnesses and deaths in communities of color, care rationing standards that discriminated based on race, age, and disability, insurmountable barriers to care and vaccinations, and more—all amidst a nationwide reckoning with our history and reality of anti-Black racism and police brutality.
In 2020, we decided the only path forward was to place equity, specifically racial equity, at the very center of our work. In 2021, we launched our strategic initiative to advance equity as a way to ensure that we are more intentionally pursuing systemic changes in law and policy that improve the lives of low-income older adults who experience inequities rooted in structural racism, ageism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and xenophobia.
Centering equity in our work will involve all staff and programs, and we will have dedicated leadership and staff whose jobs are specifically designed to help us build this new capacity, skillset, and expertise.
Centering equity in our work requires a thoughtful, purposeful, intentional strategy and plan for partnerships. We will implement new approaches for working with current partners and identify and build relationships with new partners.
We will gather and analyze data on the ways in which inequities, especially racial ones, manifest in the communities of older adults we serve.
We will adopt new planning and evaluation processes and tools that enable and require us to center equity in the decisions we make about the issues and cases we work on.
We will adapt our communications strategies and tactics to support and advance other elements of this framework, and develop communications and messaging tools for discussing equity in aging.
We will enhance our education projects and programs and target our litigation to ensure that that they address inequities in health care, long-term services and supports, economic security, housing, legal services, and elder justice for older adults.