Racism is a Public Health Issue

Because health plays such a crucial role in our lives, how healthy we are should not be determined by factors such as income level, race, or gender.

However, startling research from the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department's 2015 Health Equity Assessment found huge disparities by race - for example, the incidence of low birth weight and infant mortality for African Americans are twice as great as Caucasians in Pierce County. The study also found neighbors living less than a mile apart can have up to 8 years difference in life expectancy.

This is not just because we are black, but because of unequitable systems that have been in place for decades. Years of systemic discrimination affect access to equitable health care, schools, food, housing and places of work.

These unequitable social, economic and environmental conditions lead to poor health outcomes or health inequities.

The Tacoma Pierce County Health Department states that health inequities reduce protection against the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also states that due to the lack of access to equitable resources those at the most risk for Covid-19 are:

  • Communities of color.  

  • People experiencing poverty. 

  • Those who are homeless. 

  • People with disabilities.  

  • Front-line workers (health care, grocery, delivery, farmworkers etc.). 

  • Immigrants and refugees.   

As it stands, in Pierce County, rates among Black residents are 2-3 times higher than the infection rates for non-hispanic White Pierce County residents.

Let’s keep it 100 - racism is one of the greatest factors contributing to high Covid-19 infection rates in the Black community.

We must work together to educate, share resources and take care of one another to rise above the virus.


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