Ralph Bunche Journal of Public Affairs

Publication Date

Spring 2017


This article examines the impact of public policies in inner city communities. Using Ferguson, MO as an exemplar, the authors offer a contextual analysis of a community recently in the spotlight for the killing of an unarmed black man by a law enforcement officer. Through the lens of the social determinants of health, we examine “place” as a powerful determinant of health and community outcomes. We consider the implications of public policies and the subsequent impact on social and economic context. The authors highlight the existence of social, economic, environmental, political, and cultural factors experienced by Blacks in Ferguson, MO as contributory factors the vulnerability of the community. Specific policy implications are presented to address the fundamental causes of disparate outcomes by utilizing the social determinants of health as a framework for action.



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