Dismantling institutional racism: theory and action

Am J Community Psychol. 2007 Jun;39(3-4):381-92. doi: 10.1007/s10464-007-9117-0.


Despite a strong commitment to promoting social change and liberation, there are few community psychology models for creating systems change to address oppression. Given how embedded racism is in institutions such as healthcare, a significant shift in the system's policies, practices, and procedures is required to address institutional racism and create organizational and institutional change. This paper describes a systemic intervention to address racial inequities in healthcare quality called dismantling racism. The dismantling racism approach assumes healthcare disparities are the result of the intersection of a complex system (healthcare) and a complex problem (racism). Thus, dismantling racism is a systemic and systematic intervention designed to illuminate where and how to intervene in a given healthcare system to address proximal and distal factors associated with healthcare disparities. This paper describes the theory behind dismantling racism, the elements of the intervention strategy, and the strengths and limitations of this systems change approach.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Health Services Administration / standards*
  • Humans
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Organizational Innovation
  • Prejudice*
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Social Change*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Whites