New APHA mapping tool tracks localities declaring racism a public health crisis

Date: Mar 04 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations 

With more and more communities declaring racism a public health crisis, a new APHA data map can help advocates, researchers and the public track progress in near real time.

As of early March, the data map — developed by APHA’s Center for Public Health Policy — had tracked 182 formal declarations from around the nation. Virginia is poised to make history by becoming the first southern state to officially declare racism a public health crisis, through a resolution passed by the commonwealth’s general assembly last week. The governor’s signature is pending. Declarations are also pending in a number of other states as well, including Ohio, New York and Utah.

“For far too long, the U.S. has ignored and diminished even the existence of racism,” said Tia Taylor Williams, director of APHA’s Center for Public Health Policy. “With these declarations, jurisdictions are making a public and historic acknowledgement that not only does racism exist, but it’s also a major driver of health outcomes and should be prioritized and addressed now.”

In 2019, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, became the first jurisdiction to declare racism a public health crisis. Many communities followed suit, with the pace of adoption accelerating after the police killing of George Floyd and the protests for justice that followed. The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate health and economic impact on Black, Hispanic and Native American communities adds even more urgency to adopting racism declarations and putting them into practice.

For example, recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the U.S. lost a full year of life expectancy in the first half of 2020. However, not all communities were impacted the same — while life expectancy dropped by less than a year among white people, it dropped by nearly two years for Hispanic people and nearly three years among Black people.

Racism is a public health crisis because it undeniably shapes access to resources, services and opportunities that are critical to sustaining good health and well-being,” Williams said. “Declaring it a crisis is a powerful first step in the movement to advance racial equity and must be followed with serious resources and strategic actions that are ongoing and heavily driven by communities of color.”

APHA’s new racism declaration mapping tool is available at: www.apha.org/racism-declarations.

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.