Lunch & Learn: Election’s Effect on Marginalized Populations
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Lunch & Learn: Election’s Effect on Marginalized Populations

When we discuss marginalized populations, we tend to put those people into categories. However, Jeffrey Carroll, PhD, believes we should take a holistic approach to exactly what the inclusion of marginalized communities looks like in general, and from there, we can then drill down on the specific implications that has on public health.

That was just one aspect of a broader discussion on “2020 Election Results, National Impact and Marginalized Populations" Dr. Carroll presented at a recent Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee Lunch & Learn virtual event. 

Jeffrey Carroll

The University’s new special assistant to the president for DEI, Juliana “Dr. J” Mosley, PhD, invited Dr. Carroll to speak to the Salus community. Dr. Carroll is assistant professor of Political Science and the chair of the Center for Data & Society at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. He and Dr. J. were former colleagues at Chestnut Hill College. 

Dr. Carroll emphasized that presidential administrations and elections matter, and that they have consequences. He explained the American public thinks of the presidency in two ways: (1) The president as an institution, inherent in the structure of government, who sits atop the government’s organizational structure; (2) The president as a person, the character, one who has to exert leadership, political skills and provide persuasive oration. 

“And, probably the most important thing for the president is to build coalitions,” said Dr. Carroll. “Some would say that the president is also our chief citizen. Our founding parents believed that this person should really be reflective and the head of our country.”

Dr. Mosley added that with the selection of Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect, the role of women in leadership is likely to be viewed differently.

“What does it mean for women’s leadership? It’s something for us to pay attention to — seeing her in this role, perhaps people can now frame differently what leadership looks like,” said Dr. Mosley. “And, with her ethnicity, hopefully it’s an elevation of seeing race/ethnicity more equally.” 

Additionally, Harris’ choice of French-born Haitian-American Karin Jean-Pierre as her chief of staff during the campaign helped shine a light on immigrants and the LGBTQ+ population, according to Dr. Mosley. 

Dr. Juliana Mosley-WilliamsThe presentation pivoted to how a change in presidential administrations can affect marginalized populations. According to Dr. Carroll, there can be a substantial difference in the prospects of those who are marginalized. Those groups can be subjected to a power dynamic from those who control the political process, and in turn, marginalized populations can be the ones subjected to rampant discrimination. In addition, given the rise in the temperature of political rhetoric over the past several years, the threat of violence against marginalized populations has been daunting, said Dr. Carroll. 

“I really do hope that we will do everything we can to lower the temperature,” he said. “It begins with a change in rhetoric, not policy. Just a sheer change in what the characterization is of marginalized communities because the nuances in the conversations really do matter.”

During the question-and-answer portion of the presentation, Sean Lewis ‘22OD asked Dr. Carroll if fiscal conservatives understood that minorities don’t feel safe when social conservatives are in power. According to Dr. Carroll, he did not believe this distinction was understood. 

“Political inclusion is progressivism. So the antagonists usually want to maintain the status quo, and oftentimes what that means is equivalent to exclusion,” said Dr. Carroll. “A group doesn’t want change but change to marginalized communities means inclusion. And, that’s met with a tension between those that want change and those that don’t.” 

Jimmy Brand ‘22AUD asked how can Salus students  have conversations with their colleagues across healthcare and really drive home the fact that the experiences of marginalized people, often negative, is not just a social issue, but a matter of public health and one that healthcare providers have a role in addressing. 

“Forums like this are a really good first step of people talking and sharing different experiences of what it’s like to be a global citizen in this country,” said Dr. Carroll. “From there what you’ll start learning is that you can get a seat at the table. That’s how good policy is built, through compromise with folks at the table.”

Brand added he believed clinicians had to come at those conversations from a “brave space” — defined as having the courage to be able to speak up when the space is not necessarily safe or open for one to do so. 

“I think when you see your fellow clinicians acting from a place of bias, or something that they may not have been exposed to, come at it from trying to educate rather than shame or belittle them,” said Brand. “You have to pick your battles and the ones that you do pick have to be important and for the benefit of your patient.”

Dr. Carroll closed with his belief that the 2020 election was about the assessment of attitudes toward policy exclusion vs. political inclusion. “Given that these marginalized groups are the most vulnerable, they are the most desperate for a shift in the policies,” he said.