Community Foundation News

Race and Place Matter to Your Health

People have different experiences and outcomes based on their racial identities and where they live, work, and receive an education. Even though we live in the "land of the free," inequities and inequalities surround us. Interestingly enough, many Americans know and even acknowledge these divides. Let's look at a few.


Health sits at the intersection of race and place. In the poorest neighborhoods in America (and around the world), one number could determine how healthy you are and how long you and your loved ones will live. It may shock you to learn it is not your weight, cholesterol level, or any number over which you have control. Instead, the number is your address. Suppose you live in a community with parks, grocery stores selling nutritious foods, access to well-paying jobs, clean air, safe neighborhoods, good schools, comprehensive health care, and neighbors who look after one another. In that case, you are more likely to thrive, and so is your health.

Some Examples

In the predominantly low-income neighborhood of West Oakland, California, a Black baby is about twice as likely to be born prematurely than a white infant in the Oakland Hills and seven times more likely to be poor, as determined by national averages. As the Black baby grows into an adult, he/she is faced with an even grimmer outlook as he/she can expect to die almost 15 years earlier than the white infant born in the Oakland Hills. West Oakland and Oakland Hills are roughly 8 miles apart. With such a short distance between these two cities, the significant difference in life expectancy is even more shocking. 

Shifting to another city on the other side of the country, Connecticut is home to some of the country's wealthiest and most impoverished zip codes. In Connecticut, Black babies are more than four times as likely to die before their first birthday than white babies. This is higher than the national average. Plus, black residents are four times more likely to have a diabetes-related lower-extremity amputation and are more likely to die from diabetes than their white neighbors. And when looking into the city data, in Northeast Hartford, life expectancy is just 68.9 years, more than 20 years less than Westport, the affluent coastal town that boasts the longest life expectancy in Connecticut. Hispanics are also becoming increasingly more at-risk of these health disparities, and in some cases, are worse off than Black and white residents in US cities.  

How to Help 

Donors looking to improve these disparities should look to place-based solutions. Need help finding these projects, reach out to the Community Foundation experts to learn more. Also, suppose you are looking for more ways to learn about your specific area, the ESRI GIS for Racial Equity can help you ask and answer critical questions about racial inequities in your county.

Return to Racial Equity Hub 

City's racial and ethnic equality task force members revealed

West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James revealed the names of those who will be a part of the city's new Racial and Ethnic Equality Task Force. The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties is humbled and honored CEO Brad Hurlburt and Board Chair Julie Fisher Cummings have been named task force members.