Each April, YWCA chapters across the U.S. host the Stand Against Racism campaign to raise awareness about the negative impact of institutional and structural racism in our communities and to build community among those who work for racial justice. This annual campaign highlights the important work we do every day to dismantle systemic racism and break down racial barriers. It is also an invitation for elected officials, partner organizations, allied groups, and individuals to join us in the fight for justice to address the effects of policies, practices, enforcement, and education that disproportionately impact communities of color. In 2022, the national implementation of the Stand Against Racism Challenge has been scheduled to coincide with the Stand Against Racism campaign.
Structural racism plays a large role in determining the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and affects people’s access to quality housing, education, food, transportation, political power, and other social determinants of health. Understanding and addressing systemic racism from this public health perspective is crucial to eliminating racial and ethnic inequities, and to improving opportunity and well-being across communities. Our collective efforts can root out injustice, transform institutions, and create a world that sees women, girls and people of color the way we see them: Equal. Powerful. Unstoppable.
RACISM IS A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS
Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color face economic injustice, social deprivation, and health inequities because racist policies, regulations, and laws created opportunity for some and barriers for others.
Structural racism refers to the totality of ways in which societies foster racial discrimination through mutually reinforcing systems of housing, education, employment, earnings, benefits, credit, transportation, media, health care, and criminal justice that in turn reinforce discriminatory beliefs, values, and distribution of resources.
The American Public Health Association finds racism to be a barrier to health equity and has named racism a driving force of social determinants of health. The social determinants of health—defined as the social, environmental, and economic factors that influence health, including employment, housing, education, access to health care, nutritious food, and public safety—are known to impact life-long health outcomes beginning even before birth.
Racism operates on systemic, institutional, and interpersonal levels, all of which operate throughout time and across generations.
The non-partisan National Partnership for Women and Families has found that in the United States, health and racism are inextricably linked, creating a harmful impact on individuals and communities of color, including unequal access to quality education, employment, livable wages, healthy food, stable and affordable housing, and safe and sustainable communities.