Various circles filled with illustrated scenes demonstrating the intersection of health and race, such as how pollution affects those who live in urban environments, how climate change affects the health of populations differently, and how people of different races are the same on the inside.

“Racism as a Public Health Crisis” Pathways Released

In August 2021, leading scholars of antiracism in education, science, and public health joined forces with LabXchange to launch the Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Science Education project. An interdisciplinary collaboration to advance education about racial equity in healthcare and STEM fields, the project set out to develop curricular materials grouped into two learning clusters: “Racism as a Public Health Crisis” and “Advancing Equity in STEM Through Inclusive Teaching.”

Starting today, LabXchange is publishing the first learning sequences, or pathways, that will ultimately compose the full “Racism as a Public Health Crisis'' cluster. Click through to explore the pathways as they are released:

Once we understand that race in humans is not a biological reality but rather a socially constructed concept, we can gain deeper insight into the profound consequences of its invention, especially in terms of the significant health disparities experienced by certain communities.

Let’s explore how advances in the fields of genetics and evolutionary biology have disproved the idea that humans have biological races. By analyzing the characteristics of human genetic diversity (namely, that it is small, continuous, discordant, and within populations), we can understand that our invented racial categories do not accurately represent human genetic variation.  

The invention of race is connected to the history of European imperialism, colonialism, and slavery, which involved the categorization of people into groups based on physical and behavioral characteristics. Although we now know that these distinctions are scientifically inaccurate, their consequences persist into the present, for example, through the widespread practice of racialized medicine.

These pathways explore case studies about the relationship between racism and social and environmental determinants of health (for example, the legacy of residential segregation and the impact of climate change). They also explore historical and present-day case studies of communities that are addressing these social and environmental influences to work towards health equity for all.

For educators, the assets in the Racism as a Public Health Crisis cluster can be remixed into your own learning pathways, and used as part of a standard science curriculum. We want to challenge the perception that science is independent of social issues, and foster an interdisciplinary approach to understanding these issues that affect so many learners.

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Written by
Ilyana Sawka
Outreach & Communications Manager

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