Racism and Health Photo

Racism and Health

Racism is a system consisting of structures, policies, practices, and norms that assigns value and determines opportunity based on the way people look or the color of their skin. This results in conditions that unfairly advantage some and disadvantage others throughout society.

Racism—both interpersonal and structural—negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation.

According to the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a growing body of research shows that centuries of racism in this country has had a profound and negative impact on communities of color. The impact is pervasive and deeply embedded in our society—affecting where one lives, learns, works, worships and plays and creating inequities in access to a range of social and economic benefits—such as housing, education, wealth, and employment. These conditions—often referred to as social determinants of health—are key drivers of health inequities within communities of color, placing those within these populations at greater risk for poor health outcomes. To read more from the CDC's Office of Minority Health, click here

Tennessee's Efforts to Combat Health Disparities

The mission of the Office of Minority Health and Disparities Elimination's (OMHDE) at the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is to promote health policies, programs, and services designed to improve health and quality of life by preventing and controlling the disproportionate burden of disease, injury, and disability among disparate populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities.  The OMHDE seeks to empower communities to support optimal health for all and to eliminate disparities for racial, ethnic and underserved populations.  OMHDE strategic priorities are: Health in All Policies, Capacity Building, Partner Engagement, Alignment and Coordination, and Monitoring and Improved Performance.   

Efforts on the local level in Davidson County include the Healthy Nashville Leadership Council's $50,000 research project that will examine the area’s food availability landscape and historical causes of food insecurity. Funded through TDH's Office of Strategic Initiatives, this project is expected to continue beyond its initial funding term of January - May 2023 by building on the research findings and working with community organizations to create meaningful solutions to increase health food access over time.  For a complete list of the seven local projects recently funded across Tennessee along with descriptions of each and how they are designed to address health disparities, go to Office of Strategic Initiatives

Racial Equity Fact Sheet
Food Justice Fact Sheet