Racial Disparities

Historic abuse of communities of color through medical research has many Black Americans hesitant about getting a COVID vaccine. Dr. Angela Branche is working to address those concerns. She joins us along with community activist Justin Morris and vaccine trial participant Jackie Dozier to discuss a number of issues and questions surrounding the vaccines, and how to ensure communities of color feel informed.

Our guests:

  • Angela Branche, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), and co-director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Justin Morris, community activist
  • Jackie Dozier, vaccine trial participant

Urban League/Zoom

More than 450 people attended the first day of Rochester’s Interrupt Racism Summit on Tuesday. The two-day virtual summit sponsored by The Urban League of Rochester educates people on how to dismantle racism at their workplaces and in their communities.

In her keynote speech to participants, Urban League of Rochester CEO Seanelle Hawkins said many organizations will speak out against racism without addressing systemic problems in their own organization.


Racial disparities in Rochester, which have been highlighted by issues surrounding the death of Daniel Prude, was the topic of a live forum broadcast on WXXI-TV and radio on Thursday night as well as online at wxxinews.org.

A panel that included people from the health care, criminal justice and mental health counseling fields talked about a number of problems they see impeding real progress right now for people of color in Rochester.


A conference at Monroe Community College on Friday has the goal of trying to strengthen mental health support for a diverse student population.

College officials note that the intersection of three crises, COVID-19, economic struggles and racial injustices, has taken a toll on the mental well-being of many college students and also exposed health disparities in communities across the state and the nation.

photo provided by Ann Johnson


ACT Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation released a report on Thursday detailing racial and ethnic disparities in the nine-county greater Rochester region. 

Among the findings: African American children in the region are almost four times more likely than white children to grow up poor, while Latino children are three times as likely as their white peers. That’s higher than state and national averages.

We’re joined by members of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group. Late last month, they issued a proclamation declaring racism a public health crisis. Research shows racial health disparities are prevalent and growing.

This hour, we discuss the data, the impact of the disparities in the short and long term, and the steps the group says need to be taken to achieve health equity. Our guests:

  • Melanie Funchess, member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group, and director of community engagement at the Mental Health Association
  • Jackie Dozier, member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group
  • Jerome Underwood, member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group, president and CEO of Action for a Better Community, and co-chair or RMAPI
  • Michael Campbell, member of the Greater Rochester Black Agenda Group, independent consultant, and co-owner of North Star Rites of Passage, LLC

When schools closed in March and teachers and students were pushed to online learning settings, the transition proved difficult for students who lack internet access and technology. The digital divide continues to be a concern, and the team at ROC the Future has analyzed where the gaps are and the impact they're having on students.

The Rochester Area Community Foundation has created a special funding opportunity -- the COVID Education Fund -- for school districts and other educational organizations in the region to support the purchase of technology and internet access for students who don't have it.

This hour, we discuss the digital divide and how it's affecting local students. Our guests:

The Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club has postponed its Earth Day Environmental Forum, but its members are pushing forward with their work.

We’re joined by several of the forum’s presenters who discuss how climate change impacts at-risk communities, specifically in terms of health. It’s a conversation about environmental justice with our guests:

freeimages.com/Alix Morse

As New Yorkers commemorate the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., only a third of them say race relations are positive across the state.

Thirty-five percent of those who responded to a Siena College poll said they have been treated unfairly in the past year because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

A Rochester startup is looking to solve a medical problem with a global scope. VisualDx is building a database of what diseases look like on all skin colors, in an effort to correct persistent racial inequalities in diagnosis.

Scientists have known for decades about racial inequalities in access to medical care. A landmark 1985 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for example, found that minority Americans lived further from doctors and had less ability to pay for medical care compared to white people.