The Centre for Disease Control in a press release brought up the issue of Racism within the United States as a Health issue. Doctor Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director reminded her audience that 500,000 Americans have died so far from the Covid-19 virus and tens of millions have been affected. Dr. Walensky is also an Administrator of the Agency for toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Racism, A Health Concern?
The CDC Director declared Racism a public health threat. She highlighted several efforts that have been initiated by the CDC in an effort to address Racism as a fundamental driver of racial and ethnic inequalities in the United States.
Dr. Rochelle went on to announce a new website “Racism and Health” that shall serve as a hub for the CDC’s efforts and also serve as a site for interactive education on such sensitive issues that also pose a health threat.
The Director went on to clarify that these issues were not directly due to Covid-19, The Pandemic has actually exposed inequities that have existed for several generations and for several decades. She said Racism is a serious public health threat affecting the well-being of millions of Americans.
In her address, the director said CDC will continue to study the impact of social determinants on health outcomes, collate the evidence of how Racism affects health and provide solutions for this. She announced that Covid-19 funding will be used for new and expanded investments in racial and ethnic minority communities around the United States. This shall serve to establish a durable infrastructure that will provide both resources as well as a platform for addressing disparities related to Covid-19 and other health conditions.
The CDC director said they are extending their internal agency efforts to create an affirming environment for all Americans. She expressed her commitment to this work and asked for all to lean in and join her.
Racism is a belief that people of particular skin color and race are superior to others. There is also the threat of Institutional Racism perpetrated by Schools, the Military, and even the courts. The biggest and the most stigmatic imprint on race relations started with rampant slavery from the 17th Century. There have been many apostles down the ages who have fought for the abolition of slavery. The holiday of Juneteenth had been intended to celebrate the end of slavery.
A study by thoughtco.com shows that Racial bias has continued to and still influences the U.S. Health care. A Century ago, black veterans were denied disability pension by the Union Army. There have been instances of patients being unfairly profiled and denied health care. Monique Tello, an editor with the Harvard Health blog, wrote that it is well established that blacks and other minority groups in the United States experience more illness, worse outcomes, and premature death as compared with whites. She added the need to practice and model tolerance, respect, open-mindedness, and peace for each other.
Even Past President Barack Obama has documented racial discrimination that he had to face in college in his autobiography “Promised land”.
Author Steven O. Roberts, an assistant professor who directs the social Concepts lab of the Psychology Department of Stanford University, has a different concept of Racism. According to him, Racism is a system of advantage based on race and is a kind of hierarchy. He went on to say that Racism is so deeply embedded within American minds and society that it is virtually impossible to escape from it.
The CDC has a tough task that it has taken upon itself. Implementing these measures in a country that recorded over 3800 Racial and hate crimes during 2019 will be a challenge. Perhaps stronger laws need to be formulated to eradicate Racism altogether. Time will tell.