Introduction and Welcome

Spring 2021

A quarterly e-newsletter in which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) shares news, perspectives and progress in the science and practice of health equity.

Jeffrey E. Hall PhD, MA, MSPH, CPH, Deputy Director, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE)
Jeffrey Hall

Deputy Director, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity

Racism is an active, powerful, yet largely unchallenged public health adversary. This is, in part, because few of us have openly grappled with it as a focus of our professional practice. Most of us, myself included, have relied too heavily on a brave minority to address the specter of racism in public health work—allowing them to deal with the harm it visits upon American life. This has, for many, allowed racism to remain a “shadowy figure.” Seldom seen, nervously avoided and rarely acknowledged, even as it hindered or limited our public health practice.

Though racism is a formidable adversary, we now have a unique opportunity to confront it head on within public health practice. A conflux of recent jarring societal events has exposed racism to a bright spotlight. This has revealed, to a wider audience, how it both insidiously and openly degrades society’s health. These events have also forced more of us to face its horrors and harms. We must drag racism fully from the shadows and unite with allies both within and outside public health to vanquish it.

CDC is moving to confront racism and its health impacts directly. To do this best, we are taking a hard look at ourselves. And we are carefully exploring entry points for meaningful, systemic action.   The launch of the Racism and Health website—noted in this release of Health Equity Matters— symbolically breaks ground, for the new public face of CDC’s work in this domain. We know this is a small step. But this public commitment begins a focus and conversation unlike any our agency has had to date.

From this step we hope to build out and upon a well-developed body of science and practice showing racism to be a root cause of health inequities. We would like to do this in view of real needs and with insights accumulated over decades of lived experience. This will include incorporation of analyses and learnings in works from persons with significant proficiency in tackling racism such as Dr. Chandra Ford, who CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity recognizes not only as the Spring 2021 Health Equity Champion but also as a long-standing champion for social justice.  We hope that building on the foundations of these works will allow forthcoming efforts to achieve the high relevance and substance that addressing racism truly requires.

Jeffrey E. Hall Ph.D., M.A., M.S.P.H., C.P.H.
Deputy Director, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity

Page last reviewed: March 24, 2021