Racism Is A Public Health Crisis

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Racism Is a Public Health Crisis

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared that racism is a threat to our public health. Centuries of racism in the U.S. have caused unfair policies in housing, income, healthcare, education, public safety, transportation, and food access that prevent people of color from being healthy – Topeka/Shawnee County included. These centuries-old policies work negatively and together in ways that benefit the physical and mental health of white people over the physical and mental health of people of color.

Diagram of Advocating for State and Local Governments to declare racism a public health crisis.

Shawnee County Health Department Racial Equity Impact Analysis Group

Coordinated by the Shawnee County Health Department, REIAG (Racial Equity Impact Analysis Group) is a collaboration of organizations and community partners that are using a racial justice lens to guide their work to improve public health and create equitable, sustainable solutions.
Members include:
  • YWCA Northeast Kansas
  • Shawnee County Health Department
  • Valeo Behavioral Health
  • Kansas Department of Health & Environment
  • Kansas Department of Children & Families
  • GO Topeka (Chamber of Commerce)
  • Topeka Center for Peace & Justice
  • Topeka Public Schools USD-501
  • Hospitality Incubator Program

What You Can Do

Confronting racism and racial inequities across this range of policies requires a broad and coordinated public health response. We ask you to join us in taking action. The Shawnee County Health Department will be exploring local proclamations to declare racism as a public health crisis. This proclamation is a call to action. We encourage all people and organizations to begin taking the steps to dismantle systemic practices and policies that perpetuate racism.
  1. Co-Sign this declaration in support of addressing racism as a public health crisis.
  2. Self-Reflect – Read the Full Declaration with the Commitment to Action Steps
  3. Share this message with your networks, and continue learning about racism as a public health crisis. You can start with this blog.
  4. Join the YWCA Movement. We’re advocating for institutional and policy changes that close gaps in healthcare, housing, transportation, and other systems affecting overall health and mental health in our communities.

It will take all of us together to eliminate the barriers that have led to poor health outcomes for communities of color.

More Resources

Race Matters Institute, a national nonprofit that works to help groups become more race-informed and equity-focused in their work.

Kansas Health Matters: Shawnee County

YWCA USA Virtual Town Hall: Addressing Racism as Public Health Crisis

YWCA Northeast Kansas Blog: Lessons from COVID-19