Opinion: A chance to rebuild better, if health care, education institutions allow it

John A. Kitzhaber

Kitzhaber was governor of Oregon from 1995 to 2003 and from 2011 to 2015.

From the skybridge at OHSU, in a neighborhood where the median annual income is $42,000 and poverty is less than 15%—you can see neighborhoods six miles away with incomes half the size and the poverty rate twice as big. Between the skybridge and those neighborhoods, poverty and its associated health disparities increase over 2.8% per mile. This “social gradient” exists in cities across our nation and illustrates institutional racism hidden in plain sight.

The Black Lives Movement has powerfully highlighted one important manifestation of social injustice—the issue of police brutality and the need for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement. But the root causes of institutional racism run far deeper; they are embedded in the conditions of injustice that drive the widening disparities in health and income, and in the diminishing economic

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