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December 09, 2020 2020 US Elections Aftermath: A Social Justice Policy Summit

Structural Racism is Killing Us. Now What?

The pandemic’s effect on marginalized racial, ethnic, and religious communities was exacerbated by – while concurrently worsening – minority socioeconomic status, health conditions, living conditions, and related inequities. The public health crisis not only created enhanced awareness about these social inequities, but it also revealed the potentially lethal consequences of structural discrimination, particularly among Black, Latinx, and indigenous populations.

For instance, 30 percent of coronavirus patients were African Americans even though the minority group comprises 13 percent of the US population. In a similar vein, the Navajo Nation had the highest per capita rate of infections in the United States. Additionally, Latinos constitute 18 percent of the national population but they accounted for 33 percent of all coronavirus cases. Moreover, Black, Hispanic, and Native American children make up 78 percent of all coronavirus youth fatalities.  According to research, this is largely because racial and ethnic minorities are unable to shelter at home, live with preexisting conditions, and lacked access to healthcare for treatment.

Arguably, these jarring realities are merely symptomatic of a formidable crisis inadequately addressed in housing, employment, and healthcare, among other laws. This panel explores these vast inequalities while contemplating equitable solutions to eliminating structural barriers to equality for racial and ethnic minorities.

Summit Welcome Remarks and Introduction

  • Dr. Karen Donfried (Welcome), President, German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • Patricia Lee Refo (Introduction), President, American Bar Association; Partner, Snell & Wilmer LLP


  • Randall Akee, PhD, Chair, UCLA American Indian Studies; Associate Professor of Public Policy, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs 
  • Carlos E. Rodriguez-Diaz, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor of Prevention and Community Health, The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
  • Ruqaiijah Yearby, JD, MPH, Professor, Saint Louis University School of Law; Executive Director and Co-Founder, Institute for Healing Justice and Equity, Saint Louis University School of Law


  • Engy Abdelkader, JD, LL.M., Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States; Co-Chair, Rights of Immigrants Committee, ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice; TILN’15

Co-Sponsors: ABA Center for Human Rights, ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice, ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities, ABA Commission on Homelessness & Poverty, ABA Commission on Immigration, ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, ABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, ABA Standing Committee on Gun Violence, ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service


2020 US Elections Aftermath: A Social Justice Policy Summit Resources

2020 US Elections Aftermath: A Social Justice Policy Summit Participant Handbook

ABA Journal: Structural racism is killing us—now what? Here are some policy recommendations

Transcript: Structural Racism is Killing Us. Now What?

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