Should racism be declared a public health crisis? Gov. Northam, state leaders say yes

Should racism be declared a public health crisis?
Should racism be declared a public health crisis?

RICHMOND, Va. – For many, the global coronavirus pandemic is the worst health crisis in a generation. From the crisis emerged a focus on another emergency, one ignored for centuries: racism.

As a nation, the reckoning on race has led to major changes and brought renewed attention to the ways systems and institutions disadvantage people of color. WSLS 10 News has been dedicated to highlighting these issues as part of our 20/20 Focus: A Push for Equality.

Our latest story questions whether racism should be declared a public health crisis.

“There are fears and concerns that those of us who come from marginalized communities have that our brothers and sisters on the other side don’t think about,” explained Dr. Deneen Evans.

Owner of Mosaic Mental Wellness & Health, Dr. Evans acknowledges the trauma racism has caused on many generations of color.

“We have to start looking at race as a public health issue because it does impact health on a medical/physical side as well as a societal/systemic side," stated Dr. Evans. “The trauma, the health effects, the economic upheaval that happens – it is legitimate, and they do need to start looking at a framework that would make it acceptable in the medical field and social science field.”

Treating racism as a public health crisis is not a new practice. In fact, many states and cities have made the declaration. According to the American Public Health Association, at least 26 states or cities have done so by allocating resources and strategic action to combat racism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides guidance on this topic.

“When we accept it as a public health issue, we start putting research money behind it. We start changing policy. We start looking at it differently, and you’ll see changes," said Dr. Evans.

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