California Assemblymember Rob Bonta on Racism as a Public Health Issue

With the recent announcement of the appointment of Assemblymember Rob Bonta as California’s new Attorney General, State of Reform wanted to highlight a conversation held at our 2020 Southern California State of Reform Health Policy Conference. In this conversation on Racism as a Public Health Issue, Bonta highlighted how structural racism affects every part of a person of color’s life.


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Bonta said the fight to get those who are most vulnerable the health care they need has always been a part of his life, his dad worked to set up clinics for farm workers throughout the state working with Cesar Chavez. 

“Health care access through that equity lens, to make sure that those who are most vulnerable, who need health care and support most are first in line to get it, has been a part of my life [for a long time].”  

Bonta affirmed that every structure in our society is impacted by structural racism, including the healthcare system.

“And when we look at what leads to good health care outcomes, access to clean air, clean water, to healthy food and to health care. Those things are all social determinants of health and help drive either good or bad outcomes, and they’re all impacted by race.”

Bonta said this is the moment to “focus the light” on the issue of structural racism, especially on how racism affects a person’s health outcomes. He said he thinks there is finally broad agreement that there is systemic racism in the United States.

“I think the first step is to recognize that truth. To accept it as true, and then to work on solving the problem.”