White Supremacy and the Core Functions of Public Health


Alang, Sirry; Hardeman, Rachel; Karbeah, J’Mag; Akosionu, Odichinma; McGuire, Cydney; Abdi, Hamdi; & McAlpine, Donna (2021). White Supremacy and the Core Functions of Public Health. American Journal of Public Health. vol. 111 (5) pp. 815-819


Change is stymied if we do not critically evaluate how the discipline (scholarship, conceptual frameworks, methodologies), organizations (governmental, nonprofit, and private institutions that seek to promote population health), and public health professionals (in academia or practice) contribute to structural racism that is manifested in police brutality, among many other outcomes. Embedding geocoded information on racial inequities in socioeconomic status in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health is a good example of this approach.7 We should assess indicators of structural racism, such as racial inequities in opportunities, legislation, and policy outcomes; criminalization and incarceration; and neighborhood- or zip codelevel inequities in assets, debts, political participation, housing, and employment patterns.8,9 In 2002, BRFSS added an optional module, Reactions to Race, but few states administered it. Public health leaders, most of whom are White, primarily make decisions about the allocation of resources for research and practice, shape engagement of stakeholders, and determine whether and how the perspectives of community members are used.13 Redistributing power in community partnerships can help challenge White supremacy. Public health must be intentional about finding ways to create space for those without formal power to influence decision-making through the expertise of their lived experiences, especially experiences of racism.13 The sixth EPHS is "utilize legal and regulatory actions designed to improve and protect the public's health."




white supremacy

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Journal Article

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American Journal of Public Health


Alang, Sirry
Hardeman, Rachel
Karbeah, J’Mag
Akosionu, Odichinma
McGuire, Cydney
Abdi, Hamdi
McAlpine, Donna

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