This chapter describes how racism contributes to health disparities both through individual racism, institutional racism, and environmental racism. Health disparities are not new for communities of color to cope with. Environmental justice movements have emerged to fight environmental racism.

The opportunity to live a healthy, long life differs by racial group at all stages of life. Historically, African Americans who were enslaved were used as test subjects in painful and exploitive experiments that usually benefited white patients. In contemporary times, health disparities continue. There are more excess deaths, lower life expectancies, and higher infant mortality rates for African Americans. Infant mortality and premature birth rates are still high with college-educated black mothers. Explanations for these disparities center on life course explanations related to interpersonal and structural racism. The weathering hypothesis and cumulative disadvantage perspective both examine the wear and tear on bodies across everyday life for people of color. One unusual phenomenon is called the Hispanic paradox, which measures healthy outcomes for Latinos despite poverty and disadvantage. New immigrants face declining health the longer they live in the United States. People of color face environmental injustices living in toxic places at a greater rate than whites. Companies are more apt to site their polluting industries near communities of color. Communities and neighborhood organizations file lawsuits and fight long battles to clean up their neighborhoods and have access to healthy outdoor space.