Racism Is a Public Health Crisis

We stand in solidarity with anti-racist protesters

ChangeLab Solutions stands in solidarity with communities across the nation that are protesting the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, who are the most recent victims of our racist society and culture. We emphatically affirm that BLACK LIVES MATTER.

The structural violence against Black people that protesters across the United States and the world are responding to is the result of a long history of laws and policies that discriminate and disenfranchise. We hope that these protests accelerate real change. As an organization that focuses on advancing laws and policies to promote equitable, healthy communities, we understand that health equity will never be achieved until we address the racism, anti-blackness, and unequal opportunities that result from insidious discriminatory systems, structures, and practices. ChangeLab Solutions believes that the most powerful risk factors in health are laws and policies that have perpetuated the legacy of slavery, white supremacy, segregation, and disenfranchisement.

ChangeLab Solutions stands against racism. As an organization, we have been undergoing a fundamental shift in our identity, experiences, and contributions to public health law and health equity. ChangeLab Solutions is an organization in which people of color comprise a majority of both board and staff. We come from communities around the nation, rural and urban, coast to coast and in between. The diversity of our voices, experiences, and identities is shifting our values and beliefs as well as the work and actions that we want to take on. Today, we are at a pivotal juncture that calls for bold action and deep systemic change, and we stand ready to collaborate with new leaders who are advancing social justice as well as our existing partners in communities, in local and state governments, and in national organizations and agencies in order to achieve equitable change.

Unequal treatment makes unhealthy places. Everyone has the right to be healthy. However, communities cannot be healthy if they are the target of racist policies. Unjust laws, policies, and practices have shaped the physical, economic, and social environment over many generations and perpetuated unhealthy communities. We must change the systems that perpetuate inequity and create new laws, policies, and practices that remedy the past and institutionalize fairness and justice so that all communities can achieve optimal health. Policymakers and governments play a critical role in the decisions that shape our communities. We must hold leaders accountable for their actions, whether at the ballot box or through protest.

Communities need significant and equitable health improvements. Health inequities are deeply entrenched in our nation, and they are growing. Dismantling health inequities will require amplification of solutions developed and advanced by and for communities of color, including policy platforms demanding an end to the criminalization, incarceration, and killing of Black people. We are here to support communities as they organize to move these and other equity agendas through state and local governments across the country. We are fighting to reverse the fundamental drivers of inequities in the following ways:

  • Eliminating structural discrimination by taking action to minimize bias at all levels of society by confronting oppression
  • Eradicating poverty and disparities in income and wealth accumulation by investing in communities and areas with the greatest need
  • Removing disparities in opportunity by creating comprehensive approaches to support lifelong health and well-being for children, families, and individuals
  • Eliminating disparities in political power by ensuring that historically disenfranchised people are included and engaged in changemaking
  • Leveraging governance to promote health equity, with the explicit goal of undoing our nation’s history of discrimination and segregation

We believe in the power of local communities. ChangeLab Solutions believes that law and policy are powerful tools to equalize the distribution of money, power, and resources and undo the fundamental drivers of inequity. Working for equity at federal and state levels of government is important, but local policy change is often more feasible. For example, policy decisions about schools, health care, housing, and policing are often made at the local level, offering opportunities to influence, shape, and vote on these critical issues. We can either choose to continue the same local policies, funding the same services with the same results — or advocate for funds and resources that prioritize children, families, and communities who are at greatest risk of inequities.

Change requires bold action, collaboration, trust, and commitment. ChangeLab Solutions is ready to partner, speak out, and take action to eliminate unjust laws, eradicate the fundamental drivers of inequities, and ensure everyone’s fundamental right to health.

In solidarity,

The ChangeLab Solutions staff