Turning the words ‘racism is a public health crisis’ into action

In an interview with Communications’ Karen Feldscher, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights and Director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, gives her opinion about Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s recent declaration that “racism [is] a public health crisis”.

Noted in the Boston Globe, the mayor particularly plans to redirect $12 million in police overtime spending to other programs that combat racial and economic inequalities.

“I would probably put [the redirected funds in] housing and jobs first,” says Dr. Bassett in Feldscher’s interview. “Because when people can have a decent life, they have better health. Federal, state, and local governments have really walked away from public investment in housing on a large scale. And that has to change.”

According to Dr. Basset, the proposed redirection is not enough to change systemic racism. “$12 million would be in no way adequate to accomplish this. These sorts of changes will take a large societal investment,” she warns. “The actions that will be needed to address centuries worth of deprivation will require a substantial realignment of how we set our budgets.”

Read the full interview.