Racial is a public health crisis

Chicago nurses, health care workers and community activists united to protest racism in the health care industry in June. — AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In today’s edition of the Tribune you will find a special 32-page supplement on “Race in America.”

The supplement was inspired by the summer of protests on racial justice that spread across America and the world after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

The outpouring of protests was unlike anything ever seen in America. Yes, there have been protests about police brutality in America in the past. But those demonstrations consisted mainly of Black Americans and were restricted to large cities or where the alleged incident of police brutality had occurred. The protests were usually for short periods of time.

This summer of protests was different. It touched cities, suburbs and small towns in every region in America. The protests were global, with demonstrations in over 60 countries and on every continent including Antarctica. The protesters were multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-generational.

The protests took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately killed Black and Latinos who had pre-existing health conditions, further exposing the racial divide.

Businesses, educational institutions and even sports leagues responded and agreed that Black Lives Matter, the movement, not the organization.

The graphic killing of Floyd and the coronavirus pandemic have exposed America as a country still grappling with race, even after the election of its first Black president and the first Black vice president.

While America has undoubtedly progressed from the days of segregation and Jim Crow when the Ku Klux Klan and other domestic terror groups lynched and terrorized Black Americans, race and racism still remains a factor in American life.

We thought a “Race in America” supplement could answer some of the questions of how race impacts America today. We took a look at the issue of racism in general and in the specific areas of policing and criminal justice, economic inclusion, education, health care, media and film.

We asked a group of experts in their fields to share their thoughts in a series of essays. The list of writers is impressive, including: John L. Jackson, Jr., Richard Perry University Professor and Walter H. Annenberg Dean of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania on racism, economist William Darity on closing the racial wealth gap; Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO of the United Negro College Fund, on education and the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities; District Attorney Larry Krasner on criminal justice reform; film historian Donald Bogle on the historical and present-day image of Black Americans in films; and so many others.

Our aim is to increase understanding that could lead to better solutions. These insightful essays are now in your hands. We hope you enjoy reading them.

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