Task force releases report addressing systemic racism in Boston

BOSTON — The COVID-19 Health Inequities Task force for the city of Boston just released a new report on how to address systemic racism in the recovery process following the pandemic.

Over the last year the task force came up with eight goals with 18 recommendations to reach those goals, from addressing affordable housing to improving access to health care and making sure there’s more diversity in the city’s leadership roles.

“The time is now for all of us, leaders, community members policy makers, business leaders, the city, the universities, the hospitals, all of us from all corners of Boston to take part in rebuilding a Boston free of racial and health inequities,” said Frederica Williams, president and CEO of the Whittier Street Health Center.

This task force came together in June of 2020 when former mayor Marty Walsh declared racism as a public health crisis, and members say the COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that systemic racism exists and it has a negative impact on health care for people of color.

“It’s acknowledging that this is an issue that unfortunately took the pandemic for us to step back and begin to see in the mortality rates, and the mobility rates, and the access to healthcare, access to housing, with essential workers being sent back to work,” said Williams.

Now they’re hoping city leaders will support these recommendations, even if it means taking a holistic, radical approach across several industries.

“So that one day we hope that if you’re a health professional, you’re looking at health issues, you know maybe besides prescribing a medication for hypertension you can also prescribe housing,” said Karen Chen, with the Chinese Progressive Association. “It took a pandemic for all of us to come together to have this conversation to really look at structural racism.”

To read the full report on Health Equity Now, click here.