The social determinants of health have been long recognized and are now amplified during the first year of COVID-19. Conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, play, and worship affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Long-standing inequities affecting people of color, such as poverty and healthcare access, increase their health risks and the likelihood of poor outcomes.
Racial inequities have particularly serious consequences for young children. “These early disruptions can undermine young children’s opportunities to achieve their full potential,” according to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. “And, while they may be invisible to those who do not experience them, there is no doubt that both systemic racism and interpersonal discrimination can lead to chronic stress activation that imposes significant hardships on families raising young children.”
In the District of Columbia, Dr. Dominique Charlot-Swilley sees this problem firsthand in her work with families of color living in neighborhoods impacted by systemic racism. “Racism is a health crisis and having it married now with COVID 19, it really is showing its head on a whole different level,” she said.