Did you know? Racism is a Public Health Crisis


Here’s what that means and how you can help!

Sacramento County and dozens of other local governments have declared that racism is a public health crisis. What does this phrase mean? Starting at birth, we all interact with many different systems and structures. Here are a few: early childhood development, neighborhoods, schools, housing, transit, and jobs.

Racism shows up in all of those systems and structures in ways that reduce life expectancy and quality of life. Low-income people of color have to deal with these effects the most. In early childhood, some families can pay for childcare and give their kids experiences that help their development. Other families cannot. Some kids attend well-funded schools that offer a high-quality education. Other kids do not. Even within a school, kids of color often face harsher punishments for their behavior than other kids.

As we keep going down the road of life, we interact with more systems and have different experiences.

Then, a new threat like COVID-19 arises. The people who are already facing the most challenges are hit harder. They have fewer resources and savings. They are more likely to be “essential workers,” who deal with the public, and more likely to live in a crowded home. This adds to their risk of contracting COVID. They’re more likely to lose a loved one.

Look at the picture above. These are just some of the systems and structures that people face on the road of life. Each stopover can offer benefits and harms.

We must transform our systems so that people of color no longer get worse outcomes. Declaring that racism is a public health crisis was a good first step. Next, we must work to stop our systems from causing harm.

In Sacramento County, Public Health Advocates and our partners are urging our elected leaders to follow up their declaration with actions that can change our systems for the better. As a first step, we are asking them to listen to community members and experts who know how and why racism impacts public health.

Add your name to our letter to Sacramento County officials and join us in this fight!

Thank you for your support! For more information about our campaign, contact Abigail Hewins at ah@phadvocates.org.