Commentary: Racism is a Public Health Emergency : Family & Community Health


THE DISPROPORTIONATE impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities, along with prevalent and sustained protests for racial justice, is forcing a extensive overdue reckoning with the record of the United States, and how that record has shaped the systems, procedures, methods, collective narratives, and behaviors we exist with currently. Many men and women and businesses have created statements to explain their respective positions pertaining to white supremacy, systemic racism, racial injustice, and law enforcement brutality. Although the terms of solidarity are encouraging, the reality is that they need to be followed with actions and alter or they are just terms…which for our marginalized neighbors is regrettably just more of the identical. We have utilised eloquent terms to placate Black and Indigenous persons of colour throughout record, fundamentally telling them to wait for justice.

They have waited for hundreds of years. Now need to be different. The criminalization of Blackness and condition sanctioned violence against Black persons need to be dismantled. The terms without the need of actions perform is not fooling anybody. Failure to act on the aspect of justice has price tag valuable life and additional alienated and traumatized Black and brown communities. These wounds fester. If we want healing, we have to pick out it, and we need to do the get the job done.

Initially, we need to master the reality of record. Race is an invented assemble.1 There is no scientific foundation for racetwo – it was created precisely for the goal of oppression and justifying slavery and white supremacy.3 This nation was born of and is steeped in racial violence.4 From genocide to colonization to slavery to indentured servitude to sharecropping to Jim Crow to redlining to insidious legal guidelines and systems to mass incarceration.5–7 And to take into consideration these challenges is equally inherently political and inherently apolitical. These challenges are so normally framed as political challenges (ideal vs. still left conservative vs. progressive) to change the target and keep away from acquiring to really handle the challenges them selves. Nonetheless, these are essentially moral challenges, driven by what we believe about the benefit and inviolable rights of human beings, as nicely as who qualifies as human and hence deserving of people rights.

Racism is a community wellness crisis. The discipline of community wellness touts its foundations and grounding in social justice, but we are not innocent. Racism is a pandemic that has been driving inequitable morbidity and mortality for hundreds of years, and community wellness has carried out tiny to “remove the take care of from the pump.” As the field’s knowledge of social ecology, structural and social determinants, and root leads to deepens, we need to sharpen the target of our actions to handle them.

Justice is a Prerequisite for Health Equity

This calls for action at all ranges. What do we do as men and women? What do we do as social groups? What do we do as businesses? What do we do as communities? What do we do as societies? As advised by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, we are either racist or anti-racist there is no center floor.eight Silence is selecting a aspect. Complacency is selecting a aspect. Ignoring the challenge is selecting a aspect. Deflecting attention from the challenge is selecting a aspect. As said by Paolo Freire, “Washing one’s fingers of the conflict among the highly effective and the powerless indicates to aspect with the highly effective, not to be neutral.”nine

In line with Freirean philosophy, irrespective of whether we understand it or not, systemic injustices dehumanize us all. He argues that just about every one man or woman seeks fulfillment that is realized by becoming more absolutely human. My participation in the dehumanization of others—whether right or by my silence—inhibits my progress towards becoming more absolutely human. If I permit my superior fortune to blind me to the struggling of some others, we are equally dehumanized. If I permit my privileged posture to callous my soul against systemic injustice, I am dehumanized. And the dehumanization of any of us in a group robs us all of the large prospective that exists when the humanity of just about every person is honored and liberation is realized. As said by American poet Emma Lazarus in 1883 and later echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and Maya Angelou, “Until we are all free of charge, we are none of us free of charge.”ten All indicates all. Let us not oversight our privilege for freedom. Let us not oversight our ease and comfort for freedom. Let us not oversight our wealth for freedom. Let us not oversight our patriotism for freedom.

My humanity is certain to yours, my liberation to yours, whoever you might be. Because of that, I dedicate to actively observing, acknowledging, and elevating your humanity in any way that I can, nevertheless uncomfortable or risky that might be. I dedicate to listening, primarily when it can be tricky. I dedicate to not looking absent. I dedicate to currently being open up to crucial feed-back in my pursuit of becoming more absolutely human. I individually dedicate —as a journal editor, a school member, a mentor, a analysis chief, a division chair, an affiliate dean, an institute director—to embedding justice and fairness into the procedures and structures and content of whatsoever I impact with my posture and electric power.

Exclusively as community wellness specialists, we need to engage in praxis.11 We need to listen to the voices of our fellow people in agony. Their agony is just not new. They have been telling us the require to take care of all of this for years—we just haven’t listened. We need to critically reflect on our have views and actions, and based on what we discover, consider and act in strategies that endorse justice and healing.

For people of us who advantage from whiteness, we need to consciously de-middle our have experiences—in humility, realizing that our experiences need to have under no circumstances been considered the norm or the standard. We need to bear witness to the realities of others’ life. De-centering myself indicates recognizing that my encounter is one particular of many that make up the entire of humanity, not the one particular by which others’ experiences need to be assessed as weird or abnormal or uncivilized. We need to acknowledge and re-develop our systems of electric power that benefit some and exploit some others. We need to relinquish our proclivity to white saviorism and paternalism towards the communities we have hurt. And we need to institutionalize all of this into the way we teach ourselves and some others, equally in the structures of our institutions and in the target and content of what we educate. The mission of our discipline is to advance fairness. To do that, we need to pick out to use our electric power and platforms to need and pursue justice.


1. Cruz A. Europeans invented the principle of race as we know it. Timeline, Released 2017. Accessed July thirty, 2020.
two. Kolbert E. There is certainly no scientific foundation for race—It’s a created up label. Nationwide Geographic, Released 2018. Accessed July thirty, 2020.
3. Coates T. How racism invented race in The united states: The circumstance for reparations. The Atlantic, Released 2014. Accessed July thirty, 2020.
4. Dunbar-Ortiz R. An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. Beacon Push, 2014.
5. Grandin G. Slavery, and American racism, were being born in genocide. The Nation, Released 2020. Accessed July thirty, 2020.
six. Equal Justice Initiative. Reconstruction in The united states: Racial Violence after the Civil War, 1865-1876. Montgomery, AL. us/journey-to-freedom/. Accessed July thirty, 2020.
7. Alexander M. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New Push 2010.
eight. Kendi IX. How to Be an Antiracist. Random House, 2019.
nine. Freire P. The Politics of Education and learning: Lifestyle, Power and Liberation. Bergin & Garvey Publishers, 1985.
ten. Jewish Women’s Archive. A Quote from Epistle to the Hebrews. Accessed 7/thirty/2020.
11. Ford CL, Airhihenbuwa CO. Crucial race concept, race fairness, and community wellness: towards antiracism praxis. Am J Community Health. 2010100(S1):S30–S35.

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