The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just published an entry on its website that deems racism to be a “serious” public health threat.
In an entry titled “Racism is a Serious Threat to the Public’s Health,” the government agency claims that racism is very much intertwined with matters of public health.
“A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color,” the entry states. “The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment.”
“These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes,” it continues.
The CDC entry goes on to cite data suggesting racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease “when compared to their White counterparts.”
“Additionally, the life expectancy of non-Hispanic/Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans,” the entry adds.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate impact among racial and ethnic minority populations is another stark example of these enduring health disparities,” the CDC continues before identifying racism as depriving the U.S. and scientific and medical community “of the full breadth of talent, expertise, and perspectives needed to best address racial and ethnic health disparities.”
Because of this, the CDC says the United States “must confront the systems and policies that have resulted in the generational injustice that has given rise to racial and ethnic health inequities.”
“What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said statement. “As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation. Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they gather in community.”
The American Medical Association (AMA) has since released a statement praising the CDC for declaring racism to be a threat to public health, according to The Hill.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately plague Black and Brown communities, it’s clear that collective action from all stakeholders is needed to dismantle systemic racism and confront, embed, and advance equity across our health care system,” said AMA President Susan Bailey.