Blog Post: COVID-19, police violence, and the historical thread that binds them: Structural racism as a public health issue

Grade Range: 8-12
Resource Type(s): Reference Materials
Date Posted: 9/4/2020

“Our political and legal systems are inextricably intertwined with and fueled by structural racism. This legacy predates the country’s founding, through the genocide of Indigenous populations and the kidnapping and selling of millions of Africans into slavery. Preeminent public health scholar and former president of the American Public Health Association Dr. Camara Jones defines structural racism as “a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call ‘race’), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources." This system directly and indirectly impacts public health and the wellbeing of populations, and results in stark racial differences across various health outcomes. This underscores that deep racial health inequities are not due to the dispelled theory of biological “race,” but structural racism—the policies, practices, and norms that create and uphold racial superiority and inferiority.”

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