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

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2022 Feb;9(1):52-58. doi: 10.1007/s40615-020-00928-y. Epub 2020 Nov 16.


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.

Keywords: Advocacy; COVID-19; Health disparities; Health inequality; Structural racism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Health Inequities
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Racism*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States