Thoughts on Racism as a Public Health Crisis from the Health Equity Perspective

The last few days have been very challenging in our nation. I personally feel the pain, frustration, and anger that many are feeling right now. The last few years, we have talked about the need to address upstream factors and root causes of health disparities including racism. As a public health professional that works to address health disparities and inequities, I must say that now more than ever before, we must remain committed to this as well as committed to acknowledging racism as a public health crisis.

We have gone from the disparate impact of COVID-19 on black and brown communities to now another senseless killing of a black man by a police officer. My heart aches. The “isms” are literally killing people. Systemic and structural racism is killing people. As I protested today, I stood among white, black, and brown people. We must collectively say no to racism, call it out, and face it head on. And, I believe we can do this.

As Gail Christopher, Executive Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity stated, “There must be continued congressional, state, and local government action to bring measurable relief to vulnerable communities and groups hit hardest by COVID-19. We support local and national efforts to accelerate accountability and racial healing throughout America. We stand for and are determined to use our energy to ‘overcome’ the health and life-destroying power of racism.”

I challenge each of us to continue to explore strategies to advance racial equity in program/policy planning, implementation, and evaluation.

How can we create sustainable strategies? How can we use data to inform strategy development? And who needs to be at the table?

The article “Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is… A Lot,” written by Shenequa Golding will give you a glimpse of how some of your black and brown colleagues may be feeling right now.

I believe we are all committed to our work. However, at the same time, there are underlying feelings some are grappling with as we process the many hurtful, disparaging and awful things that have happened across this nation. It’s time for change to come. A second resource that is helpful is theTalking About Race Toolkitdeveloped by the Center for Social Inclusion.

Thank you for reading and as always stay safe and continue to stand up for fairness and equality with me.

Best Regards,

Robyn Taylor, MBA

Health Equity Consultant

National Association of Chronic Disease Directors