Racism and Health

Examining Cyberbullying and Reactions to Systemic Racism (PDF)

Declarations of racism as a public health issue

Racial Equity fact sheet (PDF) 


"Racism is 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."
-- APHA Past-President Camara Phyllis Jones, MD, MPH, PhD

Racism structures opportunity and assigns value based on how a person looks. The result: conditions that unfairly advantage some and unfairly disadvantage others. Racism hurts the health of our nation by preventing some people the opportunity to attain their highest level of health.

masked black woman at protest holding up I Have Value sign next to American flag

Racism may be intentional or unintentional. It operates at various levels in society. Racism is a driving force of the social determinants of health (like housing, education and employment) and is a barrier to health equity.

To achieve health equity and create the Healthiest Nation in One Generation, we must address injustices caused by racism. We must support actions at all levels to ensure equal opportunity for all.

How do we do that? Through racial healing (#RxRacialHealing). That means using a healing and heart-centered approach to get rid of the false belief that any people are superior to others based on their skin color.


APHA's Advocacy
Current Initiatives and Resources to Advance Equity
APHA Policy Statements
American Journal of Public Health

OCTOBER 2019 AJPHRacial Biases And Health Disparities: 400 Years Since Jamestown

Racial/Ethnic Disparities in the Use of Lethal Police Force by US police, 2010-2014 

Unequal Burdens of Loss: Examining the Frequency and Timing of Homicide Deaths Experienced by Young Black Men Across the Life Course

Under the Radar: How Unexamined Biases in Decision-Making Processes in Clinical Interactions Can Contribute to Health Care Disparities

A Life Course Perspective on How Racism May Be Related to Health Inequities

Characterizing Perceived Police Violence: Implications for Public Health

Critical Race Theory, Race Equity, and Public Health: Toward Antiracism Praxis

A Multilevel Analysis of the Relationship Between Institutional and Individual Racial Discrimination and Health Status 

Levels of Racism: A Theoretic Framework and a Gardener's Tale

Does Racism Harm Health? Did Child Abuse Exist Before 1962? On Explicit Questions, Critical Science, and Current Controversies: An Ecosocial Perspective

Methods for the Scientific Study of Discrimination and Health: An Ecological Approach 

The Structuring of Ethnic Inequalities in Health: Economic Position, Racial Discrimination and Racism

Racial/Ethnic Differences in Self-Reported Racism and its Association With Cancer-related Health Behaviors

The Lived Experience of Race and Its Health Consequences

Paved With Good Intentions: Do Public Health and Human Service Providers Contribute to Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health?

Racial/Ethnic Variations in Women’s Health: The Social Embededness of Health

Environmental Racism and Public Health

Aggressive Policing and the Mental Health of Young Urban

Black Lives Matter: A Commentary on Racism and Public Health

APHA News Releases
The Nation’s Health
News Articles
Research Articles

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Annual Report (2015). FOR 2016, LET’S REVIVE THE PASSION FOR RACIAL EQUITY A letter from La June Montgomery Tabron, President & CEO of W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Institute of Medicine (2003). Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America (2009). Race and Socioeconomic Factors Affect Opportunities for Better Health

The Aspen Institute Roundtable on Community Change (2004). Structural Racism and Community Building

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies & PolicyLink (2004). Building Stronger Communities for Better Health

Audio and Video
National Data and Useful Links

Healing Through Policy

blue and red conversation bubbles

Racism Declarations

Racism as a Public Health Crisis Declarations

Show your support!

Advancing Racial Equity T-shirt

Webinar series


From APHA Press

cover of Racism: Science and Tools for the Public Health Professional