Health is greatly influenced by the social, economic, and environmental conditions where people live, learn, work, play, worship and age. The context in which people live their lives, the limits of their choices, and the environmental burdens they experience are important to consider when examining health disparities. We know that health starts long before illness and before we ever see a health provider. Racial and ethnic health disparities have existed for decades and are well documented at the state and national levels. Racism greatly contributes to health disparities. Studies have shown that racism negatively impacts health-independent of genetics, behavior, community characteristics and socio-economic factors.

Black Portlanders deserve parity in health and life outcomes. Improving the health of the Black community means that the social, structural, economic, and environmental factors that lead to improving inequities within our community must all continue to be addressed. Bettering Black health must also be linked to our ability to access the appropriate resources and services, and to keeping people within close proximity near those resources they rely on most. Due to repeated displacement, the result of which is Root Shock, many of our community members are living with trauma. We need to heal, re-establish a sense of safety, and rebuild a sense of control and empowerment in our lives.