Over 155 organizations urge Governor Newsom to declare racism as a public health crisis

On July 14thBlack Women for Wellness Action ProjectCalifornia Black Women’s Health ProjectRoots Community Health CenterPublic Health Advocates, and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network submitted a letter with signatures from over 155 other organizations asking Governor Newsom to declare racism as a public health crisis.

In addition, these groups are requesting a meeting with Governor Newsom’s administration to discuss what this means and the next steps to ensure our state do everything it can to address racism and address past and current inequities.



With COVID-19 and racism ravaging our communities and leading to disproportionate cases and deaths of communities of color, primarily African American, Latinx/o, AAPI, and indigenous individuals, Governor Newsom has the power to take an important first step in acknowledging and holding the state accountable to systemic and institutional racism.

Racism, not race, is the reason that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its consequences. Communities of color face underlying and chronic health conditions, are more likely to be essential workers or live with an essential worker, the inability to isolate or quarantine, and fewer social safety nets.

As detailed in the letter, “African Americans have the lowest life expectancy, the highest burden of disease from preventable cause, and the poorest access to mental health care. Compared to their white counterparts, Black children are five times more likely to have an emergency department visit due to asthma, Black women four times more likely to die from childbirth, and Black men ten times more likely to be imprisoned.”

More than 90 cities and counties and 19 states across the nation have issued declarations that racism is a public health crisis. The letter states:

“Common elements across these declarations and resolutions include:

  • acknowledging the effects of intergenerational racism on population health, especially anti-Black racism,
  • assessing governments’ internal policies and procedures with a racial equity lens,
  • advocating for laws and regulations that center and promote racial equity,
  • ensuring inclusivity and diversity in leadership, workforce, hiring and contracting,
  • promoting educational efforts to address and dismantle racism,
  • identifying clear goals and objectives including specific benchmarks to assess progress, and
  • securing adequate resources for anti-racism activities.

It is also worth highlighting that Franklin County, Ohio, Flint and Port Huron, Michigan and Denver, Colorado have passed resolutions that include:

  • building partnerships and alliances with local organizations that are actively confronting racism,
  • engaging actively and authentically with communities of color, and
  • promoting all policies that prioritize the health of people of color.

We encourage California to review, adapt and adopt similar action steps as part of a statewide declaration of racism as a public health crisis.”

This press release was provided by the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network.