The Multnomah County Health Department is releasing a "report card" this morning that offers a snapshot of the disparities between white Multnomah Countians and minority populations in the county. You can guess what the results are.
In category after vital category, people of color experience a slew of adverse factors at greater rates than white people. They access pre-natal care less, are more likely to struggle with reading and have only a high school education, and more frequently have children as teenagers.
There is so much of this type of thing in the report, in fact, that it's pointless to attempt description. Check out the graphics the county provided reporters in an early copy of the report's executive summary [pdf].
Here's the salient key:
And here are the depressing findings:
As you can see, the results are especially striking for Multnomah County's black community, which has significant disparities from white people in 27 of the 31 categories listed—more than 87 percent—far outstripping other populations (African Americans also disproportionately live in areas with more exposure to diesel exhaust, and with less-healthy food options). In nine of those categories, the disparity is bad enough it "requires intervention."
It's not bad news across the board. Asian and Latino people in Multnomah County get cancer less than others, for instance.
But this is also just health factors we're talking about. Minority populations are also over-represented in the criminal justice and juvenile systems. They're even disciplined at school more often than whites. And on and on.
What to take from these findings? Health department officials will make a formal presentation later this morning, but the executive summary states the obvious: Fixing this stuff—the ugly fallout of decades—isn't going to be easy.
"The Health Department and community partners are working to reduce health disparities," the report says. "But public health strategies alone cannot address the complex societal issues that perpetuate differences in health outcomes, including racism, poverty, substandard housing, and lack of employment, education, and opportunity."