Steamboat Springs event Jan. 31 explores racism’s link to health inequity | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs event Jan. 31 explores racism’s link to health inequity

Teresa Ristow

Dr. Rachel Hardeman speaks in November as part of The Colorado Trust’s Health Equity Learning Series. Hardeman's talk will be shown Jan. 31 at Bud Werner Memorial Library, followed by a facilitated discussion on racism and health inequities.





Dr. Rachel Hardeman speaks in November as part of The Colorado Trust's Health Equity Learning Series. Hardeman’s talk will be shown Jan. 31 at Bud Werner Memorial Library, followed by a facilitated discussion on racism and health inequities.

— Researcher Dr. Rachel Hardeman believes structural racism is directly linked to many health inequities among different races and groups of people in the United States.

She thinks an example of this has taken place in Flint, Michigan, a city with a population that is nearly 60 percent African-American and spent the past two years facing a significant water quality crisis.

"It's a casebook study of how structural racism has impacted health," Hardeman said during a talk in Denver in November, part of a Healthy Equity Learning Series sponsored by The Colorado Trust.

Hardeman pointed out a March 2016 report from an independent panel studying the crisis that concluded, "Flint residents, who are majority black or African-American and among the most impoverished of any metropolitan area in the United States, did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as that provided to other communities."

The health effects the community now faces are a result of the water crisis, but also reflect a historical trend of environmental racism, said Hardeman, an assistant professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota.

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A recording of Hardeman's November presentation will screen at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Bud Werner Memorial Library as part of the local Health Equity Learning Series, sponsored by Northwest Colorado Health.

The screened presentation will be followed by a discussion about racism and health inequities by Transformative Alliances LLC, a Denver-based anti-oppression consulting group.

Hardeman said she believes health professionals need to be more aware of the country's history of racism and how it has led to health inequities, which are a result of avoidable policies and practices that create barriers to opportunity.

Another example Hardeman mentions in her talk is that of food accessibility.

"When was the last time you saw a Whole Foods building a store in a low-income or black or other marginalized community?" Hardeman asked. "This contributes to neighborhood and food environments that have very little access to healthy and fresh foods … and there's a strong link between that and higher risks of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

Hardeman said she's hopeful discussions about structural racism and health inequities will become more common and that medical providers can better understand racism and the role it plays in health issues.

At the Jan. 31 event, a light dinner will be provided, and childcare and Spanish interpretation will be available.

Learn more at northwestcoloradohealth.org/events, and RSVP by calling 970-871-7323.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

If you go:

What: Health Equity Learning Series presentation

When: 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31

Where: Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.