Racism is a Health Equity Issue Pledge

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Racism is rampant as a pervasive form of bias in the United States and many other countries. Institutionalized racism, such as in the form of police brutality, is a significant issue being faced by the nation’s Black communities. However, police brutality is not the only systemic barrier to health and well-being that Black and Brown communities face in the United States. “Racism influences many social determinants of health, such as access to employment and adequate housing, stress levels, and educational attainment, among others. It limits social, economic, and health-related opportunities and creates many forms of disadvantage that persist across generations. Racism is too often the root cause of many of the health and social inequities we observe both in the United States and globally”(1). These discrepancies are not always intentional. In fact, in addition to explicit bias, many of these inequities are perpetuated by implicit bias and the history, policies, and structure of many institutions. Regardless, inequities lead to a seemingly endless cycle of injustice that spans generations. 

There are countless examples of health inequities among our nation’s Black and Brown communities. For example, maternal mortality among Black women is much higher than among White women(2). Furthermore, many Black and Latinx families live in food deserts, defined as locations with extremely limited access to healthy food(3). Among many other factors, a lack of investment in Black and Brown communities, limited cultural humility, and a history of inadequate or unfair policies, make it impossible for many people from these communities to prosper and live the healthy lives they deserve. Racism is a health equity issue. 

It is crucial to recognize that racism is a key health equity issue. It is our duty as individuals, leaders, and professionals to champion health and racial equity in our communities and organizations. It is also time to listen to communities and their leaders, and ultimately to those most affected by health inequities and bias. 

By signing this pledge, you commit to raise awareness within your own community and/or organization about racism and its many negative consequences on the lives and wellbeing of people.  You also commit to jump start and champion a process that would help others in your organization and/or community to recognize and address racism and mitigate its impact on decision-making processes, policies, and all kinds of investments in local communities. 




1) Schiavo, R., Oledibe, N, Faroul, L. and Health Equity Initiative. (2018). Engaging New Allies in the Health Equity Movement: Highlights and Recommendations from the 2018 Summit Innovation Think Tanks. New York, NY: Health Equity Initiative. June 2018.  Available at: https://www.healthequityinitiative.org/reports.html

2) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Racial and Ethnic Disparities Continue in Pregnancy-Related Deaths. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2019/p0905-racial-ethnic-disparities-pregnancy-deaths.html

3) Brooks, K. (2014, March 10). Research shows food deserts more abundant in minority neighborhoods. Retrieved from https://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2014/spring/racial-food-deserts/



Health Equity Initiative (HEI) is a member-driven nonprofit membership organization dedicated to build a global community that engages across sectors and disciplines to advance health equity. Learn more about us at https://www.healthequityinitiative.org/about.html