In October 2017, the Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) Group, of the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, convened statewide partners at the inaugural Healthiest State Agenda Setting Meeting. The convening supported the collective identification of six statewide health equity priorities, one of which was to declare racism a public health emergency. In May 2018, the Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) passed a resolution declaring that racism is a public health crisis in Wisconsin and committed to taking action. Building on this work, as part of the Wisconsin Healthiest State Initiative, several partner organizations worked together to transfer the WPHA resolution content to this Racism is a Public Health Crisis Sign-on. The goal is for organizations and individuals to sign-on to the declaration and commit to actions that are tailored to their specific contexts.
View the current list of organizational signers, and sign on below.
(See the WPHA Resolution for full declaration and citations.)
We agree that Racism is a Public Health Crisis and commit to take urgent action because:
- Race is a social construction with no biological basis.
- Racism is a social system with multiple dimensions: individual racism is internalized or interpersonal and systemic racism is institutional or structural, and is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks, that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.
- Racism causes persistent racial discrimination in housing, education, employment and criminal justice, and an emerging body of research demonstrates that racism is a social determinant of health.
- More than 100 studies have linked racism to worse health outcomes.
- In Wisconsin, the highest excess death rates exist for African Americans and Native Americans at every stage in the life course and our infant mortality rate for infants of non-Hispanic black women is the highest in the nation.
- The American Public Health Association (APHA) launched a National Campaign Against Racism.
- Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 states that, “Wisconsin must address persistent disparities in health outcomes and the social, economic, educational and environmental inequities that contribute to them.”
- Public health’s responsibilities to address racism include reshaping our discourse and agenda so that we all actively engage in racial justice work.
- While there is no epidemiological definition of “crisis,” the health impact of racism clearly rises to the definition proposed by Galea: “The problem must affect large numbers of people, it must threaten health over the long-term, and it must require the adoption of large scale solutions.”