Racism is a centuries-long public health crisis that demands a public health response.
At PATH, our mission is achieving health equity. So today, as an institution, we acknowledge racism as an ongoing public health crisis that requires our action, humility, and solidarity.
For centuries, Black and brown communities have been deeply disenfranchised in the United States. It has been 35 years since a first report showed that while the United States was progressing in health outcomes overall, Black communities and some other communities of color were falling behind.
Written today, the same report would find that because of systemic racism, Black infants are more than twice as likely to die before their first birthdays than white infants; that Black and Native women are 2-3 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women; that police violence is a leading cause of death for Black men and boys; and that COVID-19—the worst public health crisis in a century—is disproportionately impacting Black, Native, and Latino communities.
Sometimes in our sector, we point to graphs to say the world is getting better, and to offer hope. But as our Black and brown communities know well, things aren’t getting better for everyone.
And while racism has a uniquely devastating role in the history of the United States, it is a global crisis, marginalizing people and communities everywhere.
As global public health leaders and advocates, we will speak out. We will consult with and defer to communities most impacted. We will face and work to change all the ways racism underlies how we operate—from systemic macro practices to everyday micro abuses. We will hold ourselves and our leaders accountable. And we will take action to address racism in public health as a fundamental tenet of our mission to achieve health equity.