THE STATE OF BLACK REHABILITATION ADVOCACY ENDEAVOR
Advocacy has a complex history of personal gain and altruism, but regardless of the intention of the advocate, it can be a powerful tool to uplift the voices of the silenced. We outline real and perceived experiences as it relates to the lack of advancement of the complex Black voice and potential solutions to overcome barriers to advancement and recognition of the Black individual, culture, and community.
WHEREAS,there is a lack of visible and consistent Black leadership in roles including, but not limited to, Board of Directors and executive positions in rehabilitation membership organizations (e.g. American Physical Therapy Association [APTA], American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], American Speech-Language-Hearing Association [ASHA]), academic/education programs and institutions, clinic/hospital/facility administration and ownership, and local, state, regional, and national agencies;
WHEREAS,there exists no targeted programs or strategic initiatives to increase Black representation in leadership positions in any field of rehabilitation;
WHEREAS,all rehabilitation professions recognize Diversity, but lack meaningful and objective outcome measures to track the implementation and impact of “Diversity” initiatives;
WHEREAS, efforts to address issues specific to Black rehabilitation practitioners are absent from the professional organizations’ advocacy initiatives and professional documents;
WHEREAS,current advocacy efforts related to “access” falls short of directly addressing access and issues associated with Black practitioners, patients, clients, and consumers;
WHEREAS, advocacy efforts fall short of addressing social determinants of health associated with Black consumers of rehabilitation services;
WHEREAS,there continues to be a known “minority tax” on Black practitioners to shoulder the burden of educating colleagues and coworkers without adequate training or support;
WHEREAS, there is no commonly agreed-upon advocacy agenda or cross-discipline organization to address disparities in wage, hiring, and admission practices and how this is affected by the intersectionality of the Black rehabilitation practitioner;now, therefore be it
WE call for intentional and ongoing advocacy efforts germane to the Black experience in rehabilitation professions by actively pursuing the following:
1. Development of a National Black Rehabilitation Advocacy strategic plan that includes deliverable outcomes at all systemic levels to increase Black representation in leadership across rehabilitation, education, practice, and administration settings.
2. Creation of objective outcome measures for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that can determine whether the planned advocacy interventions are successful.
3. Achievement of a systemic rehabilitation culture in which Black voices, ideas, experiences, and expertise are valued and implemented.
4.Fostering a culture that respects Black individuality, complexity, history, and diversity and does not promote acculturation to a majority standard.
5. Establishment of governing and advisory entities to ensure that data collection and analysis is performed regarding advocacy efforts to improve the rehabilitation experience within the Black community. 6. Formally gathering and assessing data in order to systematically dismantle structures and processes that generate wage gaps and contribute to intersectionality across the spectrum of rehabilitation.