Recently Published: Perspectives on PTBi’s Collective Anti-Racism Journey

Confronting institutionalized anti-Blackness is no small task. American companies and organizations sprung into action in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests, leading to a proliferation of statements and trainings. Now that the immediacy of that awakening has passed, many are left wondering what positive outcomes have been produced by that national moment.  

At the California Preterm Birth Initiative, our racial justice efforts are more than a fleeting interest, but a continuous journey that we have committed to. Our Anti-Racism Action Plan published in June 2020 outlined a detailed approach to how we worked to address and dismantle anti-Black racism from within our organization and as we work with others. Before 2020, PTBi pivoted to explicitly address racism as a root cause of racial/ethnic disparities in preterm birth rates when our community partners highlighted race and racism as an area of concern in 2017.  

As an initiative, we have continued our commitment to being engaged in anti-racist efforts and reflect on said efforts. We are proud to share that an evaluation of our anti-racism journey so far has been published in BMC Public Health’s October 2023 issue. The mixed methods case study documents perspectives on the implementation of our collective efforts. 

Interim Executive Director Solaire Spellen shares, "We've been on this journey for several years now, and when we started our work with Dante King, he was able to help us get a little bit beyond training and start to do some evaluation. While we were doing this, a lot of organizations were also starting to put out messages around what their commitments [to anti-racism] were. This felt really in line with that, but also more intentional and more real.”  

The publication highlights the outcomes of a survey and interviews with those working within PTBi. Developed by an external evaluation team in partnership with our executive leadership, these tools assessed the perspectives of faculty, staff, and trainees in the following domains: (1) training and competencies, (2) organizational commitment, (3) practices, and (4) external partnerships and communications.  

The case study reports that most people working within PTBi have “felt competent in all the assessed anti-racism skills, including foundational knowledge and responding to workplace racism.” Many expressed confidence in our commitment to addressing anti-Blackness.  

Questions arose regarding integrating anti-racism PTBi’s future strategic plan, resources, and continued implementation of the anti-racist action plan. The respondents shared suggestions including “integrating an anti-racism lens across all activities, ensuring accountability including staffing and funding consistent with anti-racist approaches, persistence in hiring Black faculty, providing professional development and support for Black staff, and addressing unintentional interpersonal harms to Black individuals.” 

"I want our network to know that we're keeping good on our promise and we're serious about this work,” Spellen said. “We're really proud that the case statement got published. It's no easy feat, it takes years to get [results] published, and we're happy it's finally published.”