We Walk with Those Striving to Dismantle Systemic Racism and Advance Health Equity

June 2, 2020

By: Shelley Hearne, DrPH, President of CityHealth

We Walk with Those Striving to Dismantle Systemic Racism and Advance Health Equity

Over the last few days, American cities have erupted in protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American resident of Minneapolis, who was killed in police custody on a busy street in broad daylight. His tragic death, like those of Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and so many others before them, is shining a bright light on the grave inequities that exist in this country for people of color. These events are taking place against the backdrop of a nation wracked by the losses of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected black communities, and the resulting economic devastation that has come down especially hard on black and brown families.



This moment lays bare the issue of police brutality, but also the many other ways people of color bear a disproportionate burden of disease, disability, danger, and premature death in America. To heal, we must first face that here, in the wealthiest nation on earth, black and brown residents so often suffer from severe inequities throughout the course of their lives, as black babies die at over twice the rate of white ones, and the life expectancy for black Americans is four years less than that of their white counterparts. In some cities, there can be as much as a twenty-year difference in life expectancy from one neighborhood to another. This is not acceptable.

The solutions to the systemic racism and severe injustices in our communities lie in the willingness of every member of society, and every institution, to defeat these norms. One key step is to commit to putting in place many of the well-known policies that address equity but have lacked political will. We must not just express sorrow – we must step up with real, measurable, and sustained action to create more equitable environments and opportunities for all.

At CityHealth, we see resolutions to these challenges in creating lasting, systemic changes to defeat racism and advance health equity. We seek to reshape the very communities we live in to ensure that every city resident can live a long and healthy life, no matter which neighborhood they live in or the color of their skin.

The CityHealth team is committed to being a resource to leaders across the country who are doing the hard work necessary to create healing. Embedding equity into each policy we advocate for is a core value of our mission, and we will continue to help city leaders put this imperative into practice. Our charge is to advance policies to ensure that every child has a home, access to healthy food, and a quality education, that every person has a safe street to walk on, is not forced to work while sick, and has clean air to breathe.

Today, we stand with those who seek to defeat racism and build health equity. We double down on our commitment to this work so that every person, in every city, can live the healthiest possible life. That is the promise of CityHealth.