By Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer
Public Health – Seattle & King County
The horrible violence of the past week, with the killing of black men by police officers in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis and of white police officers protecting peaceful demonstrators in Dallas, revolting and deeply offending to all, and has left us feeling confused, helpless and frightened.
As a public health community dedicated to promoting conditions under which all persons thrive in good health, how can we respond?
First, we need continue to renounce and work to end violence against all persons, adults and children, in all its forms. This includes gun violence and other forms of physical violence as well as sexual violence and emotional and psychological violence.
Equally important, we need to shake off complacency and recognize and confront the structural, or institutional, racism that is entrenched throughout our society.
What is structural racism? A system in which public policies, institutional practices and other norms structure opportunity and assign value based on race, and that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, advantages others, and perpetuates racial group inequity.
Structural racism is so deep rooted and long standing in our society that it is largely invisible and unnoticed by the beneficiaries of the status quo – until things boil over, as they did last week. [Read more…]