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Racism Declaration
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Racism is a Public Health Crisis

Join the WPHA Racial Equity Committee!

In May 2018, the Wisconsin Public Health Association (WPHA) passed a resolution declaring that racism is a public health crisis in Wisconsin and committed to taking action.

This resolution acknowledges that racism causes persistent discrimination, is a social determinant of health and is linked to poor health outcomes. The public health community has a responsibility to acknowledge racism, advocate for equitable policies and inform the public discourse. This WPHA resolution directly reflects one of the priorities set at the 2017 Healthiest State Agenda Setting Convening, as part of the Wisconsin Healthiest State Initiative. Building on this work, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute's Mobilizing Action Toward Community Health (MATCH) Group and several partner organizations have worked together to transfer the WPHA resolution content to this Racism is a Public Health Crisis Sign-on so that organizations can commit to actions that are tailored to their specific contexts.

Following the passage of the WPHA 2018 Resolution that Racism is a Public Health Crisis, WPHA committed to conducting an organizational assessment of internal policies and procedures to ensure racial equity is a core element of WPHA.  UBUNTU Research & Evaluation has now completed a Racial Equity Assessment of WPHA (January 2020). 

WPHA leadership is working through next steps and knows that this will be a multi-year process requiring membership engagement.  We intend to actively involve our wider membership in the process of developing an action plan. We want this process to be collective and member-owned.

For more information on organizations that have signed onto the Racism Declaration, please go to:

In addition, if you are looking for more Racial Equity tools and resources, please view this page compiled by the Racial Equity Workgroup.

WPHA Forms Racial Equity Committee - Submit your Interest!

WPHA has and continues to place an emphasis on health & racial equity and advancing health in all policies. We are looking forward to forming a committee to focus on improving Racial Equity and what this means for our organization - including implementation of our 2018 member approved Resolution. We are looking for members and non-members who are willing to serve on this committee to recommend opportunities to identify and address racial inequity in public health and within WPHA. Please submit your interest to the committee here:

APHA Racism Tools to Take Action:

WPHA Statement on the Killing of George Floyd
May 2020

In the midst of the latest killing of an African American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis, MN, the Wisconsin Public Health Association shares the grief of Americans everywhere. WPHA calls on leaders for reform as the devastating effect of systematic racism and oppression targeting people of color in our communities continues. In the face of America’s continued structural racism and violence against individuals and communities of color, we all must do more.  Our hearts go out to Mr. Floyd and his family, and to the people of Minneapolis where lives are in jeopardy right now as residents come out of their homes in unsafe environments to condemn Mr. Floyd’s killing.

Read the full press release here

WPHA Press Release Wisconsin Public Health Association Calls for Unified Front Against Racism
July 2019

WPHA sent out a press release in July 2019 encouraging and challenging others to continue to confront racism and remember that our public health community has a responsibility to acknowledge racism, advocate for equitable policies and inform the public discourse. 

There is a current national conversation about what constitutes racism.  Since the civil rights movement, discourse has moved from debating whether or not discrimination and racism are “just”, to needing to prove that racism still exists in our society. While institutional racism and discriminatory policies do untold damage, words matter too. Exposure to racist speech is traumatic. National discourse that denies the presence of racism in our society is not helpful and dismantling racism need not be a partisan issue. American University scholar Ibram X. Kendi recently said “The denial of racism, the defensiveness about racism is essential to racism itself. It’s the heartbeat of racism.”

In healthcare we know that we cannot treat a condition that hasn’t been diagnosed; as a society, we cannot eliminate racism if we deny its existence- in whatever form it takes. The Wisconsin Public Health Association calls upon local, state and national leaders to acknowledge that racism is an ongoing problem in the United States; commit to calling for an end to racist language, practices and policies; listen to people who have experienced racism; and value and affirm the human rights of all people.

Please read WPHA's full press release here.

WPHA Members Featured During CoA Panel during APHA Annual Meeting

At the APHA Annual Meeting held in November 2018, we were pleased to have two members of our Racial Equity Workgroup, Lilliann Paine and Rachel Azanleko-Akouete, present progress within our Affiliate specific to Racial Equity and the process of creating the Racial Equity Workgroup to move towards passing the resolution - Racism is a Public Health Crisis. Lilliann and Rachel's presentation title was "Putting Racial Equity on the Agenda: Creation of the Racial Equity Worgkroup in the Wisconsin Public Health Association." Please find the presentation slides by clicking here.

Lilliann and Rachel were able to be on a panel organized by the Council on Affiliates, with the theme, "Affiliate Actions to Advance Health Equity." The panel included Affiliate presentations from New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, and Wisconsin. Thank you to Rachel and Lilliann for presenting just some of the work moving forward in Wisconsin and our Association!

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