Public Health Reading List on Racial Violence and Racial Health Disparities

June 6, 2020

Racism is a long-standing public health crisis. Faculty within the Rollins School of Public Health and Emory University have done extensive research on the intersections of race, violence, politics, and the American policing system, in addition to other topics. We have composed a reading list of books and articles by our faculty that confront racial violence and racial health disparities. These selected pieces can serve as a starting place for those interested in advancing their understanding of the impact systemic racism on the health outcomes of people of color, particularly African Americans.

From Enforcers to Guardians: A Public Health Primer on Ending Police Violence
By Hannah L. F. Cooper, ScD and Mindy Thompson Fullilove, MD
Aimed at public health students, researchers, health departments, and anyone seeking to understand the causes and distributions of excessive police violence, the book examines police violence and its disproportionate targeting of Black communities through a public health lens. As noted in the book’s marketing copy, the authors, “Challenge readers to recognize that the suffering created by excessive police violence extends far outside of death to include sexual, psychological, neglectful, and nonfatal physical violence as well.” Read and purchase here

Race, Racism, and Access to Renal Transplantation Among African Americans
By Kimberly Jacob Arriola, PhD, MPH
There are clear and compelling racial disparities in access to renal transplant, which is the therapy of choice for many patients with end-stage renal disease. This paper conceptualizes the role of racism (i.e., internalized, personally-mediated, and institutionalized) in creating and perpetuating these disparities at multiple levels of the social ecology by integrating two often-cited theories in the literature. Read here

Assessing Differential Impacts of COVID-19 on Black Communities
A project led by Patrick Sullivan,PhD, DVM, David Benkeser, PhD, MPH, and other collaborators looks at the racial disparities in COVID-19 cases and deaths across the United States. The study shows that counties with predominately Black populations account for nearly 50 percent of all COVID-19 cases and more than 50 percent of COVID-19-related deaths. Their work was recently highlighted on CNN and can be viewed in detail—along with accompanying graphics—on the following website: Read here

Sleep Disparities in the Era of the COVID-19 Pandemic Highlight the Urgent Need to Address Social Determinants of Health Like the Virus of Racism
By Chandra L. Jackson, PhD, MS and Dayna A. Johnson, PhD, MPH, MSW, MS
With enough intensity to make it difficult for all to sleep well at night, COVID-19 has spread globally, and the health and social consequences of the virus-ranging from hospitalizations/death to joblessness- have differentially affected communities. Racial/ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged populations re more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to being disproportionately burdened by immune-compromising chronic conditions that are manifestations of a race-conscious society. Read advanced preview here

Perceived Discrimination among African American Adolescents and Allostatic Load: A Longitudinal Analysis with Buffering Effects
By Gene H. Brody, PhD, Man-Kit Lei, PhD, David H. Chae, PhD, Tianyi Yu, PhD, Steven M. Kogan, PhD, and Steven R. H. Beach, PhD
According to life course and developmental perspectives, disproportionate disease risk among African Americans can be traced to systematic disadvantage and social inequities, starting at conception and continuing throughout childhood and adolescence (Priest et al., 2012). Read here

Discrimination and the Health of African Americans: The Potential Importance of Intersectionalities By Tené T. Lewis, PhD and Miriam E. Van Dyke, PhD
This article presents an argument for the importance of examining intersectionalities in studies of discrimination and physical health in African Americans and provides an overview of research. Read here 

Self-Reported Experiences of Discrimination and Health: Scientific Advances, Ongoing Controversies, and Emerging Issues
By Tené T. Lewis, PhD, Courtney D. Cogburn, PhD, and David R. Williams, PhD, MPH
A large and growing body of research suggests that self-reported experiences of discrimination are a form of psychosocial stress that has an adverse impact on both mental and physical health outcomes across a range of racial/ethnic groups. The primary aim of this article is to summarize the current state of the science on discrimination and health. Read here

Chronic Stress Exposure among Young African American Children with Asthma: Racism is a Factor
By Bridgette L. Jones, MD, Vincent Staggs, PhD, and Briana Woods-Jaeger, PhD
African American and Hispanic children are more likely to have a diagnosis of asthma and significantly higher disease-related morbidity in comparison with non-Hispanic white children. Mortality rates are likewise higher, because African American children are eight times more likely than non-Hispanic white children to die of asthma (CDC. Most recent Asthma Data 2017). The cause of this striking health disparity is not clearly understood. Read here

Mitigating Negative Consequences of Community Violence Exposure: Perspectives from African American Youth
By Briana Woods-Jaeger, PhD, Jannette Berkley-Patton, PhD, MA, Kaitlin N. Piper, MPH, Paige O’Connor, Tiffaney L. Renfro, MSW, and Kelsey Christensen, MA
The burden of community violence on young African Americans includes disproportionate rates of physical and mental health consequences. To develop appropriate and sustainable interventions that mitigate the negative consequences after violence exposure, it is critical to incorporate the lived experiences and perspectives of African American youth. The researchers conducted five focus groups composed of 39 youths (average age of 16) representing income-disadvantaged neighborhoods in urban Kansas City, Missouri. Two recurring themes that emerged from the focus group discussions were discontent with the inadequate response to community violence (by school officials, law enforcement, etc.) and racial discrimination. Read here

A Review of African American-white Differences in Risk Factors for Cancer: Prostate Cancer
By Irina Mordukhovich, MSPH, PhD, Paul Reiter, PhD, MPH, Danielle M Backes, PhD, Leila Family, PhD, Lauren E. McCullough, MSPH, PhD, Katie M. O’Brien, PhD, Hilda Razzaghi, MSPH, PhD, and Andrew F. Olshan, PhD
African American men have higher prostate cancer incidence rates than White men, for reasons not completely understood. This review summarizes the existing literature of race-specific associations between risk factors and prostate cancer in order to examine whether associations differ. Read here

Disadvantaged Neighborhoods and Racial Disparity in Breast Cancer Outcomes: The Biological Link
Geetanjali Saini, PhD, Angela Ogden, PhD, Lauren E McCullough, MSPH, PhDMylin Torres, MD, Padmashree Rida, PhD, and Ritu Aneja, PhD
Neighborhoods encompass complex environments comprised of unique economic, physical, and social characteristics that have a profound impact on the residing individual’s health and, collectively, on the community’s wellbeing. Neighborhood disadvantage is one of several factors that prominently contributes to racial breast cancer health disparities in American women. African American women develop more aggressive breast cancer features, such as triple-negative receptor status and more advanced histologic grade and tumor stage, and suffer worse clinical outcomes than European American women. Read here


COVID-19 Health Equity Dashboard

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every American, the direct health impacts of the virus have varied dramatically from community to community. To track and respond to this differential health impact, Rollins research faculty have developed the COVID-19 Health Equity Dashboard. This is a dynamic and interactive web-based dashboard to visualize the interplay between social determinants and COVID-19 epidemiologic metrics at the county level. Our faculty developed this dashboard to be a public-facing tool that curates, disseminates and ultimately synthesizes actionable information to guide localized response to the epidemic over time. The dashboard can be accessed at Current functionality allows users to quickly compare each county’s COVID-19 cases, deaths, and social characteristics to the state and national average; visualize the relationship between social determinants and COVID-19 outcomes; view a printer-friendly report of detailed county data; and create side-by-side maps comparing key metrics at the county level. The dashboard developers also provide guidance on interpretation of displayed measures. 

The Dashboard is still being developed. There are future plans to add more metrics on health outcomes, policy response, and summary equity measures as those data become available or estimable at the county level. Please contact with any feedback.