Why do many Americans have trouble believing race plays a role in health disparities?

By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The coronavirus pandemic hasn't struck the United States evenly. People from lower and middle incomes and people of color have borne much of the brunt of COVID-19.

But when the nonprofit RAND Corporation took a survey of people in these communities, they found that a lot of Americans don’t think that race is a key factor in health disparities.

"We still see a lot of difficulty particularly in some groups in acknowledging and understanding the role that race and systemic racism play in health and access to being healthy and health care and that was very striking to us," said Dr. Anita Chandra, vice president and director of RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

"So much of your health is actually driven by everything that happens outside of the doctor's office," explained Chandra.

"About 90% of your health is where you live, where you work. And we can explain some of these factors to people better to show people that where you get to live, the home that you get to afford or buy, the environment you get access to, whether its healthy or not every day that builds and compounds and I think that should explain some of these racial differences."

Chandra said people who took the survey were quick to point out the link between income and class disparities and the toll of the pandemic, but a lot fewer saw the connection between racial differences and health disparities.

"Quite frankly we don't talk about race with ease in our country," she said. "We do talk about income difference and the fact that more money means more access for a lot of people, but we don’t talk about our long history with race and we're seeing that really bare out over the last year plus."

To hear the full interview with Chandra, listen to the KYW Newsradio In Depth podcast, above. Subscribe on the RADIO.COM app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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