Institute Response: Racial Equity

As we all came to grips with the reality of COVID-19, another major public health issue – as deadly as a virus – came into focus across our nation in a dramatic and vivid way. The issue is long-standing and pervasive and affects the health of many generations: Chronic racism and its inequities.

As public health educators, students and colleagues, we know that racial inequity is both a public health and human rights issue that affects the overall social and economic condition of many communities of color. Racial inequity also affects the physical and mental health of these communities.  We are currently experiencing its result: fear, anxiety, frustration, anger and trauma infused by massive protests, civil unrest and calls for systemic change.

It is the mission of the Institute for Public Health to amplify such complex public health issues and improve community health. We know there are no simple solutions; however, we commit to stand and work together with our students, faculty and community partners to listen, engage and turn ideas into action. We will be a catalyst for policy change and innovative solutions that help eliminate disparities and achieve racial equity. Consistent with our mission, we will continue our convening role facilitating partnerships that turn ideas into action. We have an ethical and professional responsibility to address the public health issue of racism in order to improve health equity for everyone.

The Institute for Public Health dedicates this page to issues of racial equity and justice. We will post news, blog posts and photos exemplifying our charge—to be a connector, convener and catalyst to improve community and global health and address complex public health challenges that impact our community.

Racial Equity: A Definition

Racial equity is the condition that would be achieved if one’s racial identity no longer predicted, in a statistical sense, how one fares. When we use the term, we are thinking about racial equity as one part of racial justice, and thus we also include work to address root causes of inequities not just their manifestation. This includes elimination of policies, practices, attitudes and cultural messages that reinforce differential outcomes by race or fail to eliminate them. Source: Center for Assessment and Policy Development

Racial discrimination AND violence

In light of the Chauvin trial in the death of George Floyd and the recent verdict, the mental health of people of color is affected during the weeks and months leading up to and after a nationally-televised issue like this, according to a new WUSTL study. Read about it.

In light of the March 2021 shootings of Asian Americans at an Atlanta salon, the Institute’s Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration has issued a statement. Read it here.


Find conversation on COVID-19 and its impact on communities of color in this new resource from The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

COVID-19 and Racial Equity

Read the article in the St. Louis American, co-authored by WUSTL Faculty and community-academic partners concerning racial inequities in vaccine distribution among Black and Brown populations.

African Americans suffer from COVID-19 at disproportionately higher rates than other groups. Institute Faculty Scholar, Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo Davis, who is also a newly appointed member of the St. Louis Board of Health weighs in on the pervasive fear of a system that has not made saving Black lives a priority. She was interviewed on St. Louis Public Radio: St. Louis Health Officials Face An Uphill Battle To Persuade Black People To Get The COVID-19 Vaccine

A new AMA report investigates reasons behind inequities, and finds the impact of COVID-19 on the Latinx community is likely underestimated.

Given the impact of COVID-19, how do we stay safe during protests? Institute Faculty Scholar Hilary Babcock, MD, spoke with St. Louis Magazine.

New research on the influence of COVID-19 among St. Louis communities finds that the region’s African American and Black residents have been especially hard hit by the crisis. Read the report.

Police Reform/Social Justice

Watch the WUSTL webinar,  “Transformative Justice: Opportunities for Advancing Racial Equity

The Demographics of Racial Inequality in the United States

What strategies are states outside of Missouri initiating to address disparities? Read this editorial from Senator Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia/Montgomery, PA)

Updated information on police reform from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis has added a Social Justice Resources Page to “advance change, while being mindful to protect public health”.

This piece, published by CNN online concerns the disproportionate number of people shot, killed or imprisoned by police in the U.S. compared with other developed countries.

Statements on Racial Equity from Centers at the Institute for Public Health

The Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration issued this statement concerning racism as a human rights crisis.

Racial Equity in the News

Institute Faculty Scholar John Robinson, III, discusses how the new administration has the opportunity to stem systemic racism in this article in WashU’s The Source.

Institute Faculty Scholar and infectious disease physician, Dr. Mati Hlatshwayo discusses HIV, COVID-19 & Systemic Racism with the St. Louis American

BIPOC: What Does it Mean?

Many newsrooms are now capitalizing the B in Black. Here are some of the people who made that happen

WUSTL Sociology: We Built a Diverse Academic Department in 5 Years. Here’s How.

Health Disparities Between White And Black St. Louisans Have Worsened, Analysis Shows

Read this interesting perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine regarding a call to action to the nation’s healthcare systems.

Local health officials including WUSTL Associate Dean of Diversity, Will Ross, say racism is a “public health crisis.”

Read campus, community and national news about racial equity.

Blog Series 

Read our blog series featuring faculty, staff & student perspectives on racial equity.


The health effects of racism are usually less obvious than murder. Listen to this podcast episode from The Atlantic featuring Sherman James, PhD, a WashU alumnus and professor emeritus at Duke University.