Racism, COVID-19, and Health Inequity in the USA: a Call to Action

Crista E. Johnson-Agbakwu, Nyima S. Ali, Corrina M. Oxford, Shana Wingo, Emily Manin, Dean V. Coonrod

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


The current national COVID-19 mortality rate for Black Americans is 2.1 times higher than that of Whites. In this commentary, we provide historical context on how structural racism undergirds multi-sector policies which contribute to racial health inequities such as those highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We offer a concrete, actionable path forward to address structural racism and advance health equity for Black Americans through anti-racism, implicit bias, and cultural competency training; capacity building; community-based participatory research (CBPR) initiatives; validated metrics for longitudinal monitoring of efforts to address health disparities and the evaluation of those interventions; and advocacy for and empowerment of vulnerable communities. This necessitates a multi-pronged, coordinated approach led by clinicians; public health professionals; researchers; social scientists; policy-makers at all governmental levels; and local community leaders and stakeholders across the education, legal, social service, and economic sectors to proactively and systematically advance health equity for Black Americans across the USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Advocacy
  • COVID-19
  • Health disparities
  • Health inequality
  • Structural racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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