Letters to the Editor

Letter: Racism and public health

The Alaska Black Caucus recognizes that racism is a public health crisis in Alaska, and we ask the Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage Health Department, state of Alaska and Alaska Department of Health and Social Services to join us in making this long-overdue declaration. This statement aligns with decades of local and national data, a recent statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declarations and legislation in more than 50 American municipalities, as well as statements made by many national medical and public health organizations including the American Public Health Association, American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Physicians.

The Alaska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Alaska Academy of Family Physicians join the ABC in support of this declaration. Additionally, the Alaska Public Health Association adopted a resolution in 2021 declaring that racism is a public health crisis in Alaska. We have known for far too long that racism, not race, contributes to shorter life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality, and worse overall health status for Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous people in the United States. Mirroring national trends, we in Alaska see this same negative impact of racism reflected in the disproportionate COVID-19 cases and worse health indicators in communities of color. 

A declaration is only the first step, but it is a necessary step. Naming racism as a public health crisis turns the spotlight on this crucial issue. Inherent in this declaration is a commitment to take action toward remedying the impacts of racism. This declaration carries with it the obligation for concordant funding, policy and leadership change. We hope to unite public health and medical organizations, government, community organizations and the public behind this fact-based statement.

Together we can co-create a new story for Alaska, but we have to be on the same page.

— Celeste Hodge Growden

President/CEO, Alaska Black Caucus

Anchorage

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