'Clumping Everyone As Hispanic May Hide Disparities': Community Leaders Discuss Health Inequities | KERA News

'Clumping Everyone As Hispanic May Hide Disparities': Community Leaders Discuss Health Inequities

Jun 4, 2020

A group of North Texas community leaders working for social justice held a virtual conversation, addressing COVID-19's disproportionate impact on communities of color. One of the key takeaways was the need to track data by both race and ethnicity. 

“Just clumping everyone as Hispanic may hide some of the disparities within this very heterogeneous group,” said Dr. Angelica Delgado-Rendon, a professor at Texas A&M University, whose work focuses on health equity for Latinx communities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unequal toll, disproportionately affecting communities of color compared to their white counterparts. In North Texas, the black and Latinx community have been some of the hardest hit.

In a recent investigation by KERA and NPR, data showed testing is limited in minority communities. In Dallas, Texas' whiter neighborhoods have more testing sites than Latinx and black neighborhoods.

One of the nonprofits that was part of the roundtable conversation was Children At Risk. Organization leaders talked about why disparities are happening and some solutions that can happen locally. 

"We need to treat this as a teachable moment for our public to understand racial inequity," said Bob Sanborn, president and CEO of Children At Risk. "I would like our governor to say, 'We want to establish a task force in our state to work on these issues around racial equity.'"

Racial disparities are rooted in “social determinants of health,” which are the economic and social conditions that influence differences in health status. Latinx and black Americans lack access to basic resources like food, water and transportation, putting them at a higher risk of being infected with the coronavirus. 

Other social determinants of health include economic instability, inadequate housing and lack of access to healthcare.

During the conversation, three recent high school graduates and YMCA of Greater Houston members shared their personal experiences. For all of them, the coronavirus and the recent Black Lives Matter protests have had a devastating impact. 

"I'm exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally, but I will not stay silent," said 18-year-old Jada.

Jada and her mother are currently living separately. She said her mother, an essential worker, is afraid she will contract COVID-19 and give it Jada.

"We've all had opportunities stripped away from us," Jada said.

The conversation ended with a demand that Texas legislators acknowledge the concerns of North Texas community leaders. Children At Risk will be releasing a statement on Thursday that will reiterate the calls to action mentioned during the conversation. 

Watch the full conversation on Facebook Live:  

Got a tip? Email Reporter Alejandra Martinez at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow her on Twitter @_martinez_ale. KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.