“A Portrait of California 2021-2022: Human Development and Housing Justice” is the third study in a decade-long series which offers statistics and analysis of how Californians are doing in health, education, and earnings broken down by race, gender, and location.  

According to the study, Black Californians’ life expectancy (74.1 years) decreased by a concerning 1.5 years between 2012 and 2019, and has no doubt fallen further due to the pandemic.   

The study, available at https://measureofamerica.org/, also says that the neighborhoods at the bottom of its life expectancies list tend to have a relatively higher proportion of Black or Latino residents, highlighting the negative impact of residential segregation on health outcomes. 

California was among the first states to start tracking racial data to determine why the disease, based on early infection patterns, was disproportionately impacting Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans. Although the rate of infections by race narrowed over time, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California Department of Health data still show higher COVID death rates for African-Americans than the general population. 

Local communities around the country are taking steps to address racial disparities, income inequality, housing instability, food insecurity, and educational inequity and their correlation to health outcomes. In South L.A., a focal point is Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU), which is dedicated to teaching health professionals who are working to make a difference in closing the healthcare gap in communities of color while bringing awareness to the health disparities there. 

“This takes us all the way back to our origin story,” said Dr. David M. Carlisle, CEO and president at CDU. “We were created, envisioned and placed where we are to address the historical, economic disparities that led to the Watts uprising of 1965. It’s all about being intentional and deliberate about addressing health disparities plaguing our community.” 

CDU became involved in the pandemic early on, when the county’s Department of Public Health invited the university to be a testing site. Students went out into the community – to shopping centers and corner strip malls – to talk to residents.

Last year, CDU received funding from the State of California, along with several grants and a donation from Michael Bloomberg to address the community’s health and economic disparity issues. 

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