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Applying culturalist methodologies to discern COVID‐19’s impact on communities of color

Cheryl Grills, Fiorella L. Carlos Chavez, Anne Saw, Karina L. Walters, Kathleen Burlew, Suzanne M. Randolph Cunningham, Cristalis Capielo Rosario, Raynald Samoa, Huberta Jackson‐Lowman

2021 United States

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color (CoC) amid increasing incidents of racial injustices and racism. In this article, we describe our culturalist methodologies for designing and implementing a multi‐ethnic, interdisciplinary national needs assessment developed in partnership with CoC. Instead of a typical western‐centric social science approach that typically ignores and perpetuates structural racism and settler colonialism, the research team implemented culturalist and community‐partnered approaches that were further contextualized to the context of structural racism and settler colonialism. The culturalist approach yielded two sets of themes both related to the impact of the pandemic on CoC. The first set involved syndemic factors that contribute to the adverse impact of COVID‐19. These include historical trauma; racism, racial stress, and discrimination; and cultural mistrust. The second set consisted of factors that potentially mitigate the impact of the COVID‐19. These include cultural protective factors; community engagement; communal ethos, and data dis- aggregation. Our methodologies and the resulting findings encourage research praxis that uplifts the shared effects of the social determinants of health while honoring unique cultural and contextual experiences—a lesson that social science researchers largely have yet to learn.

communities of color, COVID‐19, culturalist and decolonizing methodology, health disparities, needs assessment, race and ethnicity, researchers of color