Racism and Public Health: UCLA Chapter Creates Infographics

The Science Policy Group at UCLA recently created a series of infographics about how racism is a public health issue. President Zoe Guttman and Vice President Yuki Hebner reflect on the project.

We began the research that led to this infographic's creation when the Black Lives Matter movement gripped Los Angeles in May. We wanted to show how racism, and not scientific limitations, dictates health outcomes for nonwhite people. We were first struck by the exhaustive record of data that demonstrates both the magnitude and reach of systemic racism's influence on health. We were then struck by how struck we were by this. We took on this project originally thinking that it would be a few weeks' worth of work: it consumed the next two months. This clearly speaks to our ignorance of the reach of systemic racism, and the necessity for its prevalence and mechanisms to become common understanding.

One of the group's infographics, giving an overview of racism as a public health issue.
One of the group's infographics, giving an overview of racism as a public health issue.

This series is primarily aimed at white academia, so we present information in the language of this audience (peer-reviewed studies). The infographics are heavy on the “info” because of the breadth and depth of these issues, and each warrants exposure. The statistics in the infographics are a primer for the resources in the “read-more” sections, the work of social justice organizations who have long advocated for awareness and action against systemic racism. 

As scientists and trainees, it is critical for us to be acutely aware that our country's racist and oppressive history prevails in every facet of society, without the exceptions of science and academia. We became scientists because we want to improve the world we live in, and we must be intentional in addressing the glaring shortcomings that continue to plague these efforts.

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To learn more about the Science Policy Group at UCLA, follow them on Twitter: @SciPolUCLA

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