Declaring Racism as a Public Health Crisis
What is a public health crisis? A public health crisis is when a problem affects a large number of people, must threaten health over the long-term, and it must require the adoption of large scale solutions to solve.
The Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) passed a resolution in 2018 declaring racism a public health crisis in the state of Wisconsin and challenged individuals, businesses, and organizations to sign on.
Wello is proud to sign on to the Racism as a Public Health Crisis declaration and look forward to others in Brown County joining.
"So why does a declaration matter? It matters because you can not address something you don’t name. Collectively signing on to this declaration is a measure of progress, but we should think about it as just a first step in a long-term journey to actively address the deep systemic issues that have contributed to the present health inequities and disparities created and perpetuated by racism." -Natalie Bomstad, Wello Executive Director
We recognize and fully acknowledge that this is only a first step and words must be accompanied by actions. However, we believe it is important to promote community consensus around racism's role in driving health disparities in Brown County. We intend this to be a starting point by which to create further change at multiple levels within the community. In addition, our hope is to bring light to discrimination as a whole and its negative impacts on health and well-being.
In addition to signing onto the WPHA statewide resolution, Wello commits to:
- Publicly assert that racism is a public health crisis affecting our entire society and display our commitment on our Wello website.
- Participate in the statewide racism declaration strategizing meetings with the goal of supporting systemic change in statewide policy priorities. As a network devoted to driving systemic change, we will identify opportunities where these statewide priorities can be implemented at a local level and build local capacity for change throughout the Wello network.
- Work to create an equity and justice oriented organization, with staff, and other network partners identifying specific activities to increase diversity and to incorporate anti-racism principles within leadership, staffing, and contracting.
- Complete a multi-series racism, equity, and diversity training with staff and Board of Directors during the fall of 2020. Learnings will be used to create a set of guiding principles for equitable impact around race to be incorporated into our internal policies and procedures, develop an organizational health equity statement, and share lessons broadly with network partners.
- Challenge others to sign-onto the resolution. As leaders of institutions that seek to build a better future for Greater Green Bay as a whole, we ask that you join us in signing onto this resolution today. We are committed to bringing action to these words and pledge our individual and collective resources to together develop tangible actions to dismantle the structural racism preventing us from all reaching our fullest potential. We hope that you will join us as a partner in this critical endeavor.
Why Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis
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.
- In the 2019 Wello Resident Health and Well-Being Survey, non-white residents reported lower well-being in all categories compared to their white counterparts. ^1
- In Brown County, White citizens live, on average, 16 years longer than Black citizens and 18 years longer than Hispanic citizens. ^2
- In Wisconsin, infant mortality rate for infants of non-Hispanic black women is the highest in the nation.^2
- In Wisconsin, Black women are up to four times more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than white women.^2
- In Wisconsin, Black residents of Brown County are twice as likely to suffer a premature death than are White residents.^2
1.Wello. (2020). Community Health and Well-Being Survey: Brown County, Wisconsin, 2019 Survey Results. Retrieved from www.wello.org/measure.
2.Brown County-Secondary Data Report. (2018). Advocate Aurora Health. Prepared by the Center for Urban Population Health.
Our Community's Commitment
Here is a list of Brown County businesses and organizations that have signed the declaration and commit to taking action to address the health disparities and health inequities in our community as a result of racism.