How racism affects people, families and communities of color

ROSA RILEY | 9/21/2017, 10:52 a.m.
he statistics are troubling. People of color are far more likely to suffer from inequity—inequity that can be traced directly ...
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates

(—The statistics are troubling. People of color are far more likely to suffer from inequity—inequity that can be traced directly to racism, a side effect and the enduring legacy of slavery. The legacy of slavery has insinuated itself into the very fabric of our society via the criminal justice system, housing and education.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, wrote an article titled “The Case for Reparations” that addressed all the ways in which the ideals of slavery and racism have endured in the United States through policy created by the U.S. government. There now exists a prime opportunity for our country to make amends.

The most important thing that the article did was to explain how we got to where we are today—how we moved into segregated neighborhoods, why children of color now go to schools with fewer resources and how our communities were built on inequity.

As planners and public health workers, health equity is often a lens through which we aim to address the barriers and health outcomes that typically only affect people and communities of color. These barriers have an impact on every part of their daily lives and are reinforced by the choices made by local policy makers and practitioners in many sectors.

The article and infographic written by Living Cities provides a snapshot in the daily life of a family named the Reddings. Of particular interest are the parts of their day that are affected by health, transportation, housing and environmental challenges that exist at the structural, institutional or individual/implicit bias levels of racism. The areas addressed by the infographic are the following:


46 percent of maternal deaths of African-American women are preventable.

33 percent of maternal deaths of white women are preventable.


Black workers have the longest average commute time, 50.8 minutes, which causes high transportation and child care costs.


43.05 percent is the home ownership rate of Black families.

71.65 percent is the home ownership rate of white families.


In New York City, communities of color bear exposure to 30 percent of city waste and 70 percent of sewage sludge.

To read more about the Reddings and the affect of racism on their daily lives, the article and infographic can be found on Medium, “A Day in a Life: How Racism Impacts Families of Color.” For more information about Living Cities, check out their website at

For more information about how to address and close racial opportunity gaps, check out Living Cities’ Racial Equity and Inclusion page.