Podcast interviews highlight public health threats of racism, dietary colonialism

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health alumnus Reginald Tucker-Seeley, SM ’04, SD ’09, and PhD candidate Abrania Marrero appeared on recent episodes of Environmental Health News’ Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast to talk about their work.

Tucker-Seeley, assistant professor of gerontology and the Edward L. Schneider Chair in Gerontology at the University of Southern California, discussed health disparities and why racism is a public health threat, on the June 2, 2021, episode.

“I think one of the things that’s sometimes said in policy circles is that a rising tide lifts all boats. But I don’t necessarily think that, in a rising tide, all boats are as prepared to be lifted,” he said, adding that targeted policies are needed to address the systemic discrimination that has sorted people by race into certain neighborhoods, jobs, and positions in society.

Marrero, who grew up in Puerto Rico, appeared on the April 21, 2021, episode to talk about how colonialism changed the island’s relationship with food and farming. She described her research into how agriculture on Puerto Rico shifted from small farms to non-nutritive crops for export, and the negative impact this had on health. She also spoke about trying to translate her work into improvements to people’s health on the island, and the importance of respecting the agency of those she wants to help.

“It is only by honoring the power that individuals have over their own health that we will push any kind of needle forward,” she said.

Listen to Reginald Tucker-Seeley on how racism is a threat to public health

Listen to Abrania Marrero on dietary colonialism in Puerto Rico