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The ACLU of Wisconsin today joined with the Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) and more than 50 other Wisconsin organizations in calling for racism to be formally recognized as a public health crisis.
The WPHA declaration points to pervasive discrimination and disparities in housing, education, employment, criminal justice and other facets of life to explain stark differences in health outcomes across racial lines, a claim backed up more than 100 studies, which have linked racism to worse health outcomes.
In Wisconsin, the highest excess death rates exist for Black and Native Americans people at every stage of life, the declaration points out, and the infant mortality rate for infants of non-Hispanic black women is the highest in the nation. Research shows that Black and Latinx individuals in Wisconsin are more prone to suffering from various health problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.
WPHA’s declaration also comes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disproportionately impact communities of color in Wisconsin and across the country.
In Wisconsin, Black Americans in Wisconsin are 2.4 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than whites, with both Black and Brown people contracting the virus at vastly higher rates.
“The deep racial injustice that pervades our society has proven to be devastatingly harmful to the health of Black and Brown people. Problems like inadequate access to healthcare, poverty, police violence, financial distress, and housing insecurity all stem from systemic racism and oppression, and they culminate in chronically worse health outcomes for Wisconsinites of color. Medical professionals must accept the reality that racism is deadly to human health, and they must take immediate steps to confront and address these disparities,” said Chris Ott, Executive Director of the ACLU.