Williams: There’s a war on public health. Losing isn’t an option. | Govt. and Politics

I don’t know why homicides are trending up in Richmond and other cities, but it’s an agonizing trend, particularly for the communities most affected by the killing. The surges and dips in homicides over the decades are not easily explained by experts, much less laypersons. Everyone has a theory, from the dissolution of the Black family to the spike in gun sales.

One thing is for sure: The stress and isolation of the pandemic, coupled with the puerile and corrosive quality of our politics, is hazardous to anyone’s mental or physical health.

Our decay did not begin with the pandemic in a nation whose structural inequality — race-based, gender-based and economic — has left our temple of democracy in a precarious state.

When blue-collar jobs left America’s cities decades ago, so went upward mobility and a modicum of hope. Mass incarceration surged. Wealth inequality skyrocketed.

Nothing embodies current-day America more than billionaires playing astronaut for no discernable benefit to anyone except wealthy people in search of an exclusive, expensive experience. But at least the nascent space tourism industry is a nod toward science in a nation that too often rejects it.

Temperatures climb and forests combust out west, sending streams of smoke across the continent that pollute our skies. And still, our response lacks urgency, or we do the opposite of what’s prescribed — all in the name of “individual freedom,” which we used to call “selfishness.” Public health is having its “critical race theory” moment, with remedies rebranded as maladies, because some folks don’t like the taste of the medicine.

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