A Historical Examination of Racism in the United States and Its Impact on the Black Community

Jul 15, 2020 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

This event was made possible by Mathematica’s Black Employee Resource Group.

On Wednesday, July 15, Mathematica hosted Dr. Wendy Ellis, founding director of the Center for Community Resilience at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. Dr. Ellis presented on the history of systemic racism in the United States and its pivotal role in social and health disparities in the Black community. She also invited her colleague Daniel Chen, a senior researcher, to discuss their research, which uses analytical methods to look at the impact of systematic racism on social health and well-being.

During her presentation, Dr. Ellis discussed housing, public education, law enforcement, and criminal justice policies and practices that reinforce white supremacy and drive disparities that have been laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, America’s public schools have the highest level of segregation in 60 years, in part because they are funded by local property taxes. But Dr. Ellis explained that school segregation is also a result of historical discriminatory housing practices such as redlining that denied Black Americans and people of color mortgage loans, which hindered their opportunity to build wealth. She noted that neighborhoods were redlined based on their racial makeup in the 1960s, and today these same neighborhoods have the highest concentration of poverty and the worst health outcomes.

“Indigenous, Black, and Brown children and families carry an undue burden of poverty in the United States, have the least amount of wealth, highest rates of chronic disease, and shorter life expectancy than their white peers. These outcomes are not by accident—it is white supremacy by design,” she said.

Check out the event video above to listen to Dr. Ellis’s full remarks and learn more about how the Center for Community Resilience is building collaborative and cross-sector networks across the United States to promote resilience in vulnerable communities.