Remarks at the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent Item 5: Thematic Discussion: Health, Well-being and Intergenerational Trauma

Rebecca Jones Gaston
U.S. Health and Human Services Commissioner of the Administration of Children, Youth, and Families
New York, New York
June 1, 2023


Good afternoon. My name is Rebecca Jones Gaston. I am the Commissioner for the Administration for Children, Youth, and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Racial equity, health equity, dignity, and respect are driving forces behind the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to address health, well-being, and inter-generational trauma for all Americans. We recognize that there are multiple crises impacting health and well-being: from the public health crisis of insufficient health access, to the mental health crisis that the pandemic laid bare, to the disproportionate negative impact on communities of color and low-income communities caused by decades of structural racism, implicit bias, and other systems of oppression.

We also acknowledge that June 24 marks the one-year anniversary since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark women’s health decision that has demonstrated the challenges when individuals’ reproductive health access is threatened, especially given the important role that reproductive health, rights, and justice have on individuals’ agency, autonomy, and opportunity.

Nevertheless, the United States is laser focused on identifying and implementing targeted solutions to some of the most egregious challenges for Black communities in the United States. We are promoting equity for Black older adults and individuals with disabilities. We are promoting mental health for Black youth. A year ago, we released the Maternal Health Blueprint. We champion environmental justice, including $3 billion in Environmental Justice Block Grants to invest in community-led solutions to tackle pollution. We hosted the first conference on hunger, nutrition, and health in more than 50 years and released a National Strategy to end hunger and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities by 2030. We have made a historic $1.5 billion investment to help grow and diversify the nation’s health care workforce and bolster equitable health care in the communities that need it most.

The United States believes that equity, access, and quality are the strategic imperatives by which we can make progress on health and well-being to fulfill the vision that all communities can live with dignity, safety, and respect and enjoy true equal opportunity.

Thank you.