Mary T. Bassett
Director, François-Xavier Bagnoud (FXB) Center for Health and Human Rights; FXB Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University
With more than 30 years of experience in public health, Dr. Mary T. Bassett has dedicated her career to advancing health equity. Prior to joining the FXB Center, she served as New York City’s Commissioner of Health from 2014 to 2018. Dr. Bassett’s many awards and honors include the prestigious Frank A. Calderone Prize in Public Health, a Kenneth A. Forde Lifetime Achievement Award from Columbia University, and election to the National Academy of Medicine. She received her BA in history and science from Harvard University and her MD from Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. She served her medical residency at Harlem Hospital Center and has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington, where she was a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. fxb.harvard.edu
Mary is speaking at
Watch the prerecorded talks for this session beginning on Oct. 14. (Video embargoed until 4:00 p.m. ET 10/21/20.) Then tune in here on Oct. 21 for live Q&A with the speakers. (Whova mobile app users, look for the YouTube link in the session description.)
SARS-CoV-2 is blind to race, but the legacy of systemic racism in the U.S. has caused the virus to hit some racial and ethnic groups far harder than others. In July, a UCLA study reported that "Latinos and Blacks in both Los Angeles County and NYC are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 as non-Hispanic whites. Native Hawai’ians or other Pacific Islanders are nearly seven times at risk for becoming infected in Los Angeles, and have nearly five times the death rate of whites." By June, Native residents of New Mexico accounted for about 60% of coronavirus deaths, though they make up less than 9% of the population.
The disproportionate impacts of this pandemic on Black, Latino, and Native Americans, as well as other people of color, throw into sharp relief longstanding racial inequities in American health care, educational and economic opportunity, and political representation. Coronavirus has added urgency to reforms that redress the cumulative effects of systemic racism in how medicine and science are practiced.
In this session, public health experts from each of these communities will use the focusing lens of the pandemic and new results from their own research to highlight the solvable problems that contribute most to these health disparities. They will help us understand how science writers can avoid racial and ethnic framing and tropes that reinforce discriminatory systems. And they will point us to underreported successes in which communities of color have themselves taken innovative steps to combat coronavirus that could serve as a model for the nation.
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