Diversity and Disparities Overview

The Catholic Health Association and the Catholic health care ministry are committed to the importance of diversity — both in the workforce and in meeting the needs of diverse patients.

A Health Progress Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Discussion Guide

Learn more
Download the PDF

SSM Health
Men's Health and Education Center

Video Conversation: Lloyd H. Dean and Caretha Coleman on Social Justice and Health Disparities



It's In Your Hands: Reflection Honoring Fannie Lou Hamer

Recommended for June 19

» Download the PowerPoint
» Watch the video on YouTube


Fannie Lou Hamer was a powerful civil rights leader. She consistently fought for women's rights, economic justice, and black empowerment, and her deep influence among a generation of Black activists cannot be overemphasized.

In a 1971 speech, Ms. Hamer shared the following parable:

Reader 1

I would like to tell you in closing a story of an old man. This old man was very wise, and he could answer questions that were almost impossible for people to answer. fannie-lou-hamer-image

So some people went to him one day, two young people, and said, "We're going to trick this guy today. We're going to catch a bird, and we're going to carry it to this old man, and we're going to ask him, 'This that we hold in our hands today, is it alive or is it dead?' If he says 'Dead,' we're going to turn it loose and let it fly, but if he says, 'Alive,' we're going to crush it."

So they walked up to this old man, and they said, "This that we hold in our hands today, is it alive or is it dead?" He looked at the young people and he smiled. And he said, "It's in your hands."
God of justice and mercy, there is much that is out of our hands; much that we cannot control. And yet, some changes are ours to make. The work of anti-racism and racial justice is ours to do, it is in our hands. Pray with us, Move us to change, O God.

Reader 2     

For the courage to look honestly at the institutionalized racism of our society and at our own inherited biases. We pray:

All                Move us to change, O God

Reader 3     

For the ways in which racism diminishes the humanity of each person especially those communities who sustained the greatest loss of life from COVID-19 due to health disparities. We pray:

All                Move us to change, O God

Reader 4     

For deepened listening and stronger relationships within our communities so that our commitments can be resolute, humble and focused on providing care that honors the full human dignity of all people. We pray:

All                Move us to change, O God


God of all, You became vulnerable and humble for our sake. Make us willing to be vulnerable and humble for the sake of our brothers and sisters. Give us the fire of Your spirit in building a just society, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Photo copied from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/10/06/civil-rights-crusader-fannie-lou-hamer-defied-men-and-presidents-who-tried-to-silence-her/, where this caption was included: Fannie Lou Hamer walks toward the entrance to the convention hall, where she was finally admitted. (UPI/Bettmann).

Watch the reflection on YouTube

Related Prayers

» Back to Top

Download This Prayer


Order Prayer Cards


Reflection on Equity Prayer Card


A new CDC report on maternal mortality found significant racial disparities, with African-American and American Indian/Alaska Native women 3 times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as white women. To learn more about maternal mortality read the report and visit the CDC’s Vital Statistics webpage.

CMS Office of Minority Health Report
(April 25, 2017) In recognition of National Minority Health Month, the CMS Office of Minority Health has released a data highlight that – for the first time ever – examines Marketplace enrollment activity by racial and ethnic subgroup, as well as spoken and written language preference. 

Structural Racism and Health
A Collection of resources from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Visit the website

What’s Killing Our Children? Child and Infant Mortality among American Indians and Alaska Natives
By Teshia G. Arambula Solomon, Felina M. Cordova, and Francisco Garcia
The very vulnerable demographic group of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) youth face unique and important challenges. The authors of a new paper from the National Academy of Medicine use the lens of infant and childhood mortality as a tool to recognize opportunities for action that could have an impact on this perhaps most critical indicator of the health of this population. The authors extract some lessons from the lived experiences of too many reservation and urban Indian communities and turn these tragic stories into useful tools for broader policy and health system change.
Read the article

Chartbook on Health Care for Blacks – National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released a Chartbook on Health Care for Blacks, derived from the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, which summarizes trends in health care disparities by race related to access, Heckler Report priorities, and National Quality Strategy priorities. Key findings include increases in suicide and mental health disparities, improvements in access to care since the Affordable Care Act, and poorer quality of care related to person-centeredness and care coordination.
Download the free report and slide deck
Guide to Preventing Readmissions Among Racially & Ethnically Diverse Medicare Beneficiaries
As part of the CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare, CMS OMH, in collaboration with the Disparities Solutions Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and NORC at the University of Chicago, produced a Guide to Preventing Readmissions among Racially and Ethnically Diverse Medicare Beneficiaries. This Guide is designed to equip hospital leaders, as well as QIN-QIOs and HENs, with guidance for addressing avoidable readmissions in this population. The Guide provides a set of action-oriented recommendations, as well as case examples of initiatives that may be applied to reduce readmissions in diverse populations.
Download the Guide

A Practitioner's Guide for Advancing Health Equity: Community Strategies for Preventing Chronic Disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new Health Guide resource. The opening section discusses practices and principles for incorporating health equity goals into organizations’ activities. While the focus of the document is public health and community organizations, it provides great ideas and examples that are useful across settings.

Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Access to and Utilization of Care among Insured Adults
The Kaiser Family Foundation has a new issue brief out looking at the extent to which people of color may continue to experience disparities in access to and utilization of care even after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. The brief examines differences in access to and utilization of care for Black and Hispanic adults compared to white adults among those who are uninsured, enrolled in Medicaid, and privately insured, using data from the 2014 Kaiser Survey of Low-Income Americans.

Other Articles

Equity of Care - Culturally Competent Care
Sr. Carol Keehan, DC
Reprinted with permission of Health Administration Press from Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 58, no. 4, pp. 250-252. Copyright 2013.

Lack of Diversity in Medical Research Is Bad for Your Health (National Journal)
Low participation of minority populations in clinical trials can lead to development of medicines that are dangerous for the people using them.