The Milken Institute School of Public Health is responding to the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has killed more than 100,000 people in the United States, disproportionately affecting minority neighborhoods and African Americans. We know these communities of color not only face high rates of chronic diseases such as heart disease but are also more likely to suffer from and die of COVID-19.
At the same time, there is a pandemic within a pandemic. These communities of color are also more likely to be targets of police brutality and face the injustice of racism, a struggle that dates back to the country’s earliest days, including the fight for civil rights, segregation and slavery. We know that racism takes a toll on a person’s health and that its toxic impact begins in the womb and affects people throughout their lives.
The most recent examples that expose the police brutality and structural racism in the United States include the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, among others whose names are not as widely known. In all 50 states, people have taken to the streets to protest and call for justice. At the same time, public health experts worry that these large gatherings of people may lead to further transmission of the novel coronavirus and a spike in cases of COVID-19.
Here at Milken Institute SPH, we pledge to amplify our commitment to address racism and discrimination in all of its toxic forms; to support and hear minority voices within our community; to find solutions for some of the health disparities affecting minorities; and to work toward creating a world where every person – regardless of the color of their skin or any discriminatory factor – can live a long, healthy life.
Below includes research that Milken Institute SPH researchers have or are conducting on health disparities and racism, commentaries from those in our community on the impact of racism and inequity, and resources aimed to help cast light on the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism. Every one of us has a role to play in creating a healthier world.
#GWinSolidarity: The GW Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement is hosting with various partners a series of programs for all to attend. More information about these programs is available here and registration to participate is here.
Care Network: A report can be submitted by any member of the GWSPH community if there are immediate concerns about the health or well-being of a student.
Wellbeing Hotline: An employer-sponsored program available at no cost to faculty, staff and members of their households (including dependent children up to age 26, whether or not they live at home). Services are confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This Virus Doesn’t Discriminate Yet The Death Rate for Black Americans Outpaces Any Group Natasha Kazeem, Executive Associate Dean of Operations, and Adnan Hyder, Senior Associate Dean of Research, discuss the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on Black American communities.
A Tale of Two Pandemics: Coronavirus and Racism, Both Affect Black People Venessa Marie Perry, MPH ’99, calls for people to “recognize the disproportionate burden” on Black people.
COVID-19: What’s equity got to do with it?: Wendy Ellis, Director of the Building Community Resilience Collaborative and Networks, discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed long-standing inequities in society.
EPA’s Failure to Enforce Environmental Laws Will Amplify COVID Risk Ami Zota, associate professor of environmental and occupational health, explores how changes in environmental policy put communities of color at greater risk of health problems, including COVID-19.
New Blog Series Amplifies Perspective of Future Public Health Leaders. In partnership with Environmental Health News, Ami Zota, associate professor of environmental and occupational health, launched a blog to amplify the perspectives of emerging public health leaders from minority communities.
The DC Center for AIDS Research, a multi-institutional effort based at Milken Institute SPH, supports research aimed at ending the HIV epidemic in the District of Columbia, which disproportionately affects the African-American community.
Building Community Resilience Collaborative and Networks at Milken Institute SPH provides technical assistance, analysis and policy guidance to institutions, organizations and collaboratives to create measurable change.
The Environmental Injustice of Beauty Analysis by Ami Zota, associate professor of environmental and occupational health, shows women of color have higher levels of beauty-product-related chemicals in their bodies compared to white women.