Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Segregated water fountains Atmospheric pollutants Mass incarceration

Systemic racism has plagued our country’s institutions, policies, and programs for far too long.

The widespread oppression of minorities, particularly Black Americans, has led to severe disparities that we cannot and should not continue to ignore.

A Disproportionate Impact Study conducted by the Commissioners Court’s Analyst’s Office provides undeniable evidence of racism’s damage on virtually every social determinant of health.

Bottom line: racism is, in fact, a public health crisis.

Precinct One continues to support creating real change in our oppressive and racist systems. Whether equitable flood mitigation or systemic and structural racism or poverty, we are facing the truths that have been long overlooked and focusing our resources on exposing and ending the systemic racism and bias in our county.

Demonstrators demanding equal rightsThe fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak is exacerbating existing financial, health, food, and economic challenges of low-income persons and communities of color. This is not a coincidence, but rather a reflection of a long legacy of discriminatory policies and practices that result in racial and ethnic disparities. Racism impacts virtually every social determinant of health and leads to inequities in life expectancy, wealth, income, incarceration, as well as high rates of maternal and infant deaths, asthma, cancer and dementia, among many more factors. We have been complicit in perpetuating these inequities for far too long.

The possibility that implicit bias and structural racism exist in every policy and system allows us to shed light on inequities that are destroying our communities. We have joined more than 20 other cities and counties across the country to declare racism a public health crisis. To look internally, Harris County must treat this issue with the level of urgency and importance that it deserves and consider a countywide Racial Equity Impact Assessment to look internally. Also, it must ensure that every measure, policy, or program approved by Commissioners Court is working to advance racial equity, not hinder it.