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Anti-Racist Public Health

In the past few years our nation has seen disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infection and deaths within the BIPOC community, the reemergence of overt racism in mainstream discourse, high profile murders of unarmed black people by police, and a rise in hate crimes against individuals of Asian descent. This illuminates the enduring and endemic impacts of racism in the United States.


In response, a cross-sector of entities have decried racism and statements from APHA and public health departments across the country have declared it a public health issue. Unfortunately, significant backlash has arisen as well, as evidenced by the proliferation of hateful rhetoric across corporate and social media platforms, the banning of factual history from being taught in schools, and legislation across the nation meant to diminish the voting power of racial minorities. This should come as no surprise, as throughout the history of the United States, every movement to advance equity and justice for BIPOC communities and other disenfranchised groups has been met by rage and fierce resistance; and every gain ever made has only come through struggle.


For equity and justice to finally prevail, Public Health must not remain “color-blind,” passive, or neutral in this struggle, but must be proactively race-conscious and anti-racist. Such a commitment is not about being “woke,” or saying the right words, but doing the work. The dismantling of systemic racism will require sustained efforts such as cross-sector coordination and collaboration, professional and public education campaigns, community engagement and co-creation, and policy reform. CPHA has committed ourselves to building an anti-racist public health movement and is already a leader on the national stage, helping to inform the efforts of APHA and other state affiliates. The outcome of this struggle, however, is not predetermined. Colorado, and the United States, has never needed an empowered, resourced, galvanized, and mobilized public health more than right now; and our continued growth and success will require the engagement and support of people like you.

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