Free Event

The USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health in partnership with the KSOM Office of Social Justice invite you to join us for “Can Reparations Help to End Racial Disparities in Health?”


Drawing inspiration from the recent California Reparations Task Force Report, this one-hour virtual event will consider the opportunities reparations can offer for health and well-being, connecting the work of the California Reparations Task Force to current work at USC, in Los Angeles, and across California more broadly. This discussion will explore reparations in relation to health and to addressing health disparities, with a focus on the potential for reparations to improve health in California. Speakers will provide reflections on, and aspirations drawn from, the California Reparations Task Force Report, with an eye towards analysis and engagement in pushing this work forward. Panelists will consider the potential, in our current political moment, for reparations to uphold human rights, dignity, and the right to health for historically marginalized populations.


The conversation will begin with an introduction from IIGH Director Sofia Gruskin and will be moderated by USC Keck School of Medicine Professor and Associate Dean for Social Justice, Ricky Bluthenthal.


The webinar is co-sponsored by the USC Homelessness Policy Research Institute and USC Graduate Student Government.


Please join us on Tuesday, December 5 at 12:00 pm PT/3:00 pm ET. 


If you're interested in learning more before the event, check out: 5 Things podcast: Will California's Black reparations to address slavery pass? (Link)



Cheryl Tawede Grills has been on the faculty of Loyola Marymount University (LMU) for the past 36 years, where she is Professor of Psychology, Director of their Psychology Applied Research Center, and President’s Professor in the College of Liberal Arts. She is the Founder and Executive Director of a non-profit organization, Imoyase Community Support Services, dedicated to program evaluation and action research with community-based organizations focused on social justice and community organizing. Dr. Grills is a national Past President of The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi) and serves as one of the lead trainers in the Community Healing Network/ABPsi Emotional Emancipation Circles Initiative partnership designed to address racial trauma and stress experienced by people of African ancestry. She served on the California Reparations Task Force, appointed by the Governor and was Co-Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection. She is currently a commissioner on the 400 Years of African American History Commission and the National African American Reparations Commission (NAARC). She recently concluded an over ten-year term as a Commissioner on Los Angeles County’s Sybil Brand Commission for Institutional Inspections, which inspects LA County jails and correctional facilities. Dr. Grills’ research interests, publications, and projects include African Psychology, African Centered models of treatment engagement with African Americans; community psychology; community mental health; mental health disparities; community organizing as a public health strategy; community defined mental health intervention strategies; positive youth development; and program evaluation.



LaVonna Blair Lewis is the Vice Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and a Teaching Professor of Public Policy at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. Dr. Lewis’s areas of research and professional interests consistently focus on cultural competency and health equity, both targeting the health status and health care needs of underrepresented groups. As such, she feels she has a twofold mission in life — to make the invisible, visible, and to make people uncomfortable. She has worked on multiple projects that address racial and ethnic health disparities in cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and infant mortality. These projects involved local government and a diverse group of community organizations, including large and small CBOs, schools and federally qualified health centers. Her research has appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, Family and Community Health, the American Journal of Health Behavior, Social Science and Medicine, the Journal of General Internal Medicine, and other health management and policy journals. During her time at USC, she has won several teaching awards and in 2019, she received the Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) Humanitarian Award in recognition of her research on food deserts, and in 2022, she won the California Women in Homeland Security Ripple Effect Award, for her contributions to public service. In all arenas, she is concerned with lifting up authentic voices as a means to generate honest dialogue and engagement as catalysts for change.



Manuel Pastor is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity and Director of the Equity Research Institute at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Dr. Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental, and social conditions facing low-income urban communities — and the social movements seeking to change those realities. Dr. Pastor was the founding director of the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has received fellowships from the Danforth, Guggenheim and Kellogg foundations, and grants from the Irvine Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and many others. Dr. Pastor speaks frequently on issues of demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment, and has contributed opinion pieces to such outlets including the Los Angeles Times and Huffington Post. Dr. Pastor holds an economics PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.



Reggie Jones-Sawyer represents the 57th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Exposition Park, South Los Angeles, and downtown Los Angeles, including Skid Row. Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer was first elected to the State Legislature in 2012 and has earned a reputation of being a progressive reformer and champion of second chances. The Assemblymember has worked on reforming judicial, criminal justice, and police policies to ensure greater public safety and equal treatment under the law. His P.E.A.C.E. Act (AB 89) transformed the recruiting process for law enforcement by raising the age limit to 21 with new college curriculum requirements for law enforcement cadets. Additional works by the Assemblymember includes policies that end the practice of punishing the poor in the judicial system that has created generational poverty in communities of color and the founding of the Youth Reinvestment Grant (YRG) fund. His political career began as the Assistant Deputy Mayor with the City of Los Angeles, later becoming the city’s Director of Real Estate. Assemblymember Jones-Sawyers’ family also has a history of involvement in the Civil Rights Movement beginning with his uncle Jefferson Thomas, who was a member of the Little Rock Nine, the first Black students to be integrated into an all-White high school in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. Death threats and acts of violence towards family members, and directly at the Member, led to the family eventually moving to California where the Assemblymember would continue to be a target. A graduate of the University of Southern California (USC) and the Kennedy School of Public Policy and Government program at Harvard, the Assemblymember returned to USC as a Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy.




Ricky N. Bluthenthal is the Associate Dean for Social Justice and Vice Chair for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and a Professor in the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences and the Institute for Prevention Research in the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. He received a BA in History and Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a MA and PhD in sociology from the University of California Berkeley. His research has established the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs, tested novel interventions and strategies to reduce HIV risk and improve HIV testing among injection drug users and men who have sex with men, documented how community conditions contribute to health disparities, and examined health policy implementation. His current studies include an observational cohort study of how cannabis legalization impacts use patterns and health outcomes of cannabis and opioids among people who inject drugs and a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of a single session intervention to reduce injection initiation risk behaviors among established people who inject drugs. Dr. Bluthenthal has authored or co-authored over 180 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Social Science and Medicine, The Lancet, Addiction, and Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research among others. He is on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Drug Policy, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, and is an associate editor of the addiction section of the Annals of Medicine.



Sofia Gruskin directs the USC Institute on Inequalities in Global Health (IIGH). She is Professor of Preventive Medicine and Chief of the Disease Prevention, Policy and Global Health Division at the Keck School of Medicine, and Professor of Law and Preventive Medicine at the Gould School of Law. Prof. Gruskin currently sits on numerous international boards and committees including the PEPFAR Scientific Advisory Board, the Lancet Commission on Gender and Global Health, the IUSSP Steering Committee to Strengthen Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems, and the Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights. Prof. Gruskin has published extensively, including several books, training manuals and edited journal volumes, and more than 200 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics.

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