Because the health effects of poverty are so widespread and because there’s already a correlation between race and poverty, it’s difficult to study how much racism and racial prejudice plays a role outside of the existing socio-economic disparities. Most research and researchers, if they have an opinion at all, believe racism has an independent effect on health outcomes, but that it’s small compared to the role poverty has to play.

At the same time, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, along with many health researchers in the state, explains that understanding this connection between race, poverty, and health outcomes is far more important than trying to figure out what independent effect racism has—if the question can be answered at all.

Confusing biology with racism is dangerous. Just as focusing on biology rather than poverty just because it seems more closely related to health can be misguided. And how we frame the problem matters: Investing millions of dollars to identify, treat, and cure ethnicity-linked medical conditions is not nearly as effective as using state funds to make sure poor people and people of color can meet their basic living needs.


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