Racism and its associated injustices have created barriers for people of color since the beginnings of our nation. We see its effects in all of our systems, from unequal medical care to discrimination in housing, employment, education, and the justice system—and beyond.
How does racism affect health?
Research shows that this history of individual and structural racism spanning generations denies opportunity to people of color and robs them of their physical and mental health. The life expectancy of people of color is often a decade or more shorter than their white neighbors just a few blocks away. They face a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and mental illness. And babies born to black women are more than twice as likely to die in the first year of life as babies born to white women.
These health disparities, and often the diseases themselves, stem in part from the stress of being silenced, ignored, oppressed, and targeted for violence.
In connection with past and current Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) programs aimed at reducing health disparities and advancing health equity, this collection includes research findings and perspectives on the connections between race, racism and health.
To reach a Culture of Health, we must be honest about the fact that too many people in the United States start behind, and stay behind, because they don’t have the same opportunities as others. If we don’t focus on and tackle structural racism, we simply can’t make progress toward health equity in America.