The events in the past year in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; and Charleston, South Carolina, have shed new light on the continued stigmas and civil rights injustices that still remain in our country today. To explain and continue the conversation about the impact that racism has had on the health and disparities of Americans, the American Public Health Association (APHA) is hosting a four-part webinar series titled, The Impact of Racism on the Health and Well-Being of the Nation. To learn more about the webinar series, PreventObesity.net sat down to speak with APHA President Dr. Shiriki Kumanyika.
So far, two webinars have occurred
, and two more are scheduled. Dr. Kumanyika spoke in the first webinar, Naming and Addressing Racism: A Primer. Dr. Kumanyika said the first webinar was a general overview that was meant to “open the conversation, to use that term and explain to people what is meant by racism. I wanted to explain that there are different types of racism, and what is meant by it, how it affects health, and why it is important to public health institutes.” In the first webinar, Dr. Kumanyika also spoke about the data, and how populations are categorized on racial populations and the prevalence of diseases and life expectancy. According to Dr. Kumanyika, “we need to think about the reasons for this data. We repeat the statistics a lot, but we don’t ask why. I started off the first webinar by talking about the Heckler Report, and how if minorities had the same health status as whites, we would have many fewer deaths per year. We don’t want excess deaths. We have to look at what is underneath these statistics and see what is happening.”
APHA Past President Linda Degutis was the main speaker in the second webinar, No Safety, No Health: A Conversation About Race, Place and Preventing Violence, in which she covered community safety, housing policies and segregation, and how they can lead to violence.
Dr. Kumanyika said, “If we are going to continue to repeat and repeat and repeat these statistics, we are obligated to talk about the solutions because we don’t want people to think that it’s a problem that is intrinsic of the population. We don’t want people to sound like victims.”
The third webinar in the series, called Unequal Treatment: Disparities in Access, Quality and Care, will be on disparities through a health care focus. The fourth webinar will cover education. According to Dr. Kumanyika, racism limits educational opportunities, which leads to health disparities. To learn more about the webinars, listen to past webinars, or view slides from past webinars, visit the APHA’s website.