Transition Plan for Strong Communities

Health Equity and Racism

Racism is a public health crisis. A core social determinant of health, the impact of racism has been linked to birth disparities, chronic stress, and lifelong mental and physical health problems. Children of color now make up a majority of American youth — so their health and prosperity will determine our nation’s future. The coexisting dangers of COVID-19 and racism have exacerbated, and complicated, existing health problems for youth. Studies show that social determinants of health – including housing, healthcare access, educational inequalities, income gaps, occupational hazards, and both unconscious biases and outright discrimination—are all stacked against children of color.

Adopt health equity and racism as a defining principle for policy change. The administration must work to acknowledge the impact of systemic racism on American children and integrate racial and equity considerations into policy change at all levels of the federal government.

Advocate for federal and local policies that support implicit-bias training. Failure to address racism will continue to undermine health equity for all children, adolescents, emerging adults, and their families. The administration should rescind the Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping which aims to prohibit the use of the core principles of equity and inclusion in materials and trainings used within the federal government, further threatening efforts to address health disparities and systemic racism.

Increase funding for health disparities research. The administration should prioritize funding for the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health. NIMHD funds research into the prevalence and impact of health disparities as well as effective individual, community, and population-level interventions to reduce health disparities.

Recognize the importance of schools in addressing racism. The administration should prioritize policies to improve the quality of education in segregated urban, suburban, and rural communities better optimize vocational attainment and educational milestones for all students. Policies should address disparities in academic outcomes and disproportionate rates of suspension and expulsion among students of color. Curricula must be multicultural, multilingual, and reflective of the communities in which children attend school.

Address disparities in youth sports opportunities. Sports participation rates are higher among white children than Black, Latinx and Asian children, with minority children often lacking access to organized sports programs in their communities. These existing youth sports disparities are being further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration should develop a national plan on eliminating these disparities.

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American Academy of Pediatrics