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Study: Structural racism to blame for health disparities in state

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The Minnesota Department of the Health is set to deliver a report to the state Legislature Saturday that blames structural racism and white privilege for health disparities in the state, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

According to the agency, there are major race-based differences in almost every major condition that is tracked in the state. MPR says the report goes much further than previous reports that linked health disparities to unfair government and societal practices.

Among the findings: African-American babies are twice as likely to die during infancy in the first year than white babies; and African-American men are also likely to die from prostate cancer than white men.

In addition, the report finds there's a much higher prevalence of diabetes in American Indians than whites, and a higher death rate from diabetes among Latinos than whites. Also, there are fewer stroke deaths among white people than African-Americans, American Indians and Asians in Minnesota, MPR says.

While the report notes that personal behaviors, genetics and medical care play a role in disease, health is also shaped by physical, social and economic factors, MPR says. Among the economic factors are income, employment, education and the condition of neighborhoods.

"Your health shouldn’t be dependent on your income, your educational status, or your skin color, or your zip code," state Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger tells MPR.

The report doesn't offer any clear solutions for solving the health disparities, but encourages people to work together to improve the health of all individuals statewide.

Meanwhile, Minnesota's next-door neighbor also appears to be struggling with distinctive racial disparities between African-Americans and whites.

The blog Nonprofit Quarterly earlier this month cited the results of a study by the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, which claimed the state had the "regrettable distinction of ranking among the worst states in the nation in terms of racial equality."

According to Nonprofit Quarterly, the report also claimed Minnesota was behind Wisconsin in a number of areas, saying the state was the "worst in the nation in terms of incarceration rates, family poverty, individuals without health insurance and educational attainment."

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