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Executive Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the depths and reach of racism on the health of children, families, and individuals, with communities of color in California experiencing higher rates of illness, death, and overall hardship due to the virus. This devastation must be the catalyst for California policymakers to acknowledge that racism has caused lasting and negative impacts on communities of color. While some local policymakers in California have declared racism as a public health crisis, there has not been a declaration at the state level. This Report provides a high level overview on how health inequities are a direct consequence of historic and ongoing racism. The integration of racist policies and practices in various systems — specifically housing, environment, employment, health care, justice system, and education — prevents many communities the opportunity to be healthy and thrive. Only by first declaring racism a public health crisis can we then begin to minimize, neutralize, and dismantle the systems of racism that create inequalities in health for Californians.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities, exposing the damaging effects of racism in California. This was not by accident, but by design.

In this report, you’ll find:

  • California & COVID-19: Why Policymakers Must Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis
  • Communities of Color Are Hardest Hit by COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Health Inequities Are Tied to Structural Racism
  • How Does Everyday Racial Discrimination Harm the Health of People of Color?
  • Federal, State, and Local Policies and Practices Rooted in Racism Have Produced an Inequitable California
  • Racism Has Produced an Inequitable California

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