CDC Deems Racism a ‘Serious’ Public Health Threat

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on 2/3/20202 "Rachel Maddow Show"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) deemed racism a “serious” public health threat, according to an entry published on the agency’s website.

In an entry titled “Racism is a Serious Threat to the Public’s Health,” the agency asserts racism is intricately intertwined with public health matters:

A growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color. The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes.

The CDC cites data suggesting racial and ethnic minority groups experience higher rates of health conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease “when compared to their White counterparts.”


“Additionally, the life expectancy of non-Hispanic/Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans,” the entry reads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and its disproportionate impact among racial and ethnic minority populations is another stark example of these enduring health disparities,” the agency continues, also identifying racism as depriving the U.S. and scientific and medical community “of the full breadth of talent, expertise, and perspectives needed to best address racial and ethnic health disparities.”

As a result, the U.S. “must confront the systems and policies that have resulted in the generational injustice that has given rise to racial and ethnic health inequities,” the agency adds, although it did not list specific systems and policies it believes need the U.S. must face head-on.

“What we know is this: racism is a serious public health threat that directly affects the well-being of millions of Americans,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement posted in a section titled “Director’s Commentary”:

As a result, it affects the health of our entire nation. 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 gather in community.

The American Medical Association (AMA) praised the CDC for addressing the topic of racism.

AMA President Susan Bailey said in a statement:

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately plague Black and Brown communities, it’s clear that collective action from all stakeholders is needed to dismantle systemic racism and confront, embed, and advance equity across our health care system.

All the while, Democrats have continued to deem other issues, seemingly unrelated to public health, as matters of public health.

During Thursday’s Rose Garden address on executive actions on firearms, for example, President Biden referred to the “gun crisis” as a “public health crisis.”

“We got a long way to go. It always seems like we always have a long way to go. But I also — today, we’re taking steps to confront not just the gun crisis, but what is actually a public health crisis,” Biden said, later adding that his steps will lead to the creation of safer and healthier communities.


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