It’s Not Irony, it’s Interest Convergence: A CRT Perspective on Racism as Public Health Crisis Statements


Racism as a Public Health Crisis Statements (RPHCs) acknowledge the reality that racism must be eradicated to ensure health justice: a fair and just opportunity for all individuals to be healthy. Scholars of critical race theory (CRT) have expressed doubt when it comes to the capacity of law-related institutions to catalyze or sustain anti-racist efforts. These strains of skepticism underscore the question of whether so many RPHCS were adopted precisely because, in many instances, they were merely symbolic acts. This commentary argues that the trend in adopting RPHCs carries signs of interest convergence, and asserts that the alliance between government and the movement for health justice reflected in this phenomenon falls short of the substantive anti-racist action needed to realize health justice. The spate of RPHC adoption, in lieu of passing anti-racist policy or meaningfully empowering people of color, signifies that the movement for health justice must be strategic in determining whether to leverage, or be wary of, the power dynamics which shape political change. The health justice framework must expand its toolkit to include CRT.