In this country, vast racial inequalities are nothing new. They are the result of centuries of structural racism—unequal treatment by American institutions—and dominant white power structures—toward people of color. COVID-19 has simply magnified racial inequalities. Big structural change is drastically needed in order to overcome these inequalities, so that the country is better prepared for future public health emergencies.

It is imperative that we move toward achieving a truly universal, comprehensive, and equitable health-care system in the United States. Without this, we will continue to see vast racial disparities across a number of health conditions, including infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Not only must access to insurance coverage and comprehensive health-care services be expanded, but we must also ensure that care is of the highest quality for all people, and that we address bias, discrimination, racism, and other systemic barriers that keep marginalized communities from attaining the timely, compassionate care they need and deserve. This requires us to acknowledge the historical foundations of racism against African Americans, indigenous people, and those of Latin descent in this country, while also recognizing that the impacts of that racism can still be seen today.

COVID-19 has magnified centuries of inequality, but that does not have to continue to define this country. We must seize the moment and use it to shift the trajectory. We can create a better society where people of color are not needlessly succumbing to preventable illness. We can create an equal playing field where all workers are supported and paid what they are worth. We can dismantle the racism that pervades our institutions and structures. But none of this is possible without political will, and the courage to meet this moment’s challenges head on.

Read the full article about demolishing racist health structures by Jamila K. Taylor at Democracy Journal.