The CDC director has designated racism as a 'serious public health threat' facing Americans

Sinéad Baker
·2 min read
GettyImages black lives matter protest
An anti-racism protest in Washington, DC. Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • The CDC designated racism as a "serious public health threat" facing Americans.

  • Its director said the pandemic exposed an "epidemic impacting public health: racism."

  • The American Medical Association defined racism as a public-health threat last year.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has designated racism as a "serious public health threat" facing Americans.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency's director, noted in a Thursday statement that the coronavirus pandemic had affected communities of color "more severely" in terms of cases, deaths, and social effects, adding that this inequality was not caused by the virus.

"Instead, the pandemic illuminated inequities that have existed for generations and revealed for all of America a known, but often unaddressed, epidemic impacting public health: racism," she said.

"What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans. As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation."

She added: "Racism is not just the discrimination against one group based on the color of their skin or their race or ethnicity, but the structural barriers that impact racial and ethnic groups differently to influence where a person lives, where they work, where their children play, and where they worship and gather in community."

She said the CDC would study the relationship between social factors and health and use coronavirus funding to invest in "racial and ethnic minority communities and other disproportionately affected communities around the country." She also said the agency itself was trying to make itself more inclusive and diverse.

The American Medical Association officially defined racism as a public-health threat last year.

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