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The present-day location of public parks should be understood in the proper social and historical context of residential segregation and urban development. In Los Angeles, discriminatory practices such as restrictive covenants were used not only for housing, but also to maintain segregated recreational spaces. In addition, the economic changes that came as a result of White flight, suburbanization, and inner city job loss brought with it a reduction in local government resources, including funds for public parks. These changes to the urban landscape disproportionately impacted low-income immigrant communities, including Latino neighborhoods. Health disparities researchers are concerned with the inequitable distribution of parks and recreation facilities because it may contribute to disparities in physical inactivity and obesity, health risks that disproportionately impact Latinos. However, much of the literature investigating disparities in the built environment fails to include a racial analysis. The current study uses a Critical Race Theory framework to examine disparities in park availability in Los Angeles. We used a unique park dataset created in ArcGIS to carry out a county-wide assessment of the availability of park features at the neighborhood level. Data come from two sources, the Los Angeles County Location Management System, which includes information on specific park features (e.g., swimming pools, parks and gardens, recreation centers) and the American Community Survey, which includes neighborhood-level sociodemographic information. A zero-inflated negative binomial regression model was used to test whether Latino immigrant neighborhood characteristics are associated with the availability of park features in Los Angeles. Results indicate that Latino immigrant neighborhoods have limited park availability. The discussion situates these findings of inequitable distribution of park resources in the appropriate social and historical context of Latinos living in Los Angeles.
While it is clear that self-reported racial/ethnic discrimination is related to illness, there are challenges in measuring self-reported discrimination or unfair treatment. In the present study, we evaluate the psychometric properties of a self-reported instrument across racial/ethnic groups in a population-based sample, and we test and interpret findings from applying two different widely-used approaches to asking about discrimination and unfair treatment. Even though we found that the subset of items we tested tap into a single underlying concept, we also found that different groups are more likely to report on different aspects of discrimination. Whether race is mentioned in the survey question affects both frequency and mean scores of reports of racial/ethnic discrimination. Our findings suggest caution to researchers when comparing studies that have used different approaches to measure racial/ethnic discrimination and allow us to suggest practical empirical guidelines for measuring and analyzing racial/ethnic discrimination. No less important, we have developed a self-reported measure of recent racial/ethnic discrimination that functions well in a range of different racial/ethnic groups and makes it possible to compare how racial/ethnic discrimination is associated with health disparities among multiple racial/ethnic groups.
Racial minorities bear a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality. These inequities might be explained by racism, given the fact that racism has restricted the lives of racial minorities and immigrants throughout history. Recent studies have documented that individuals who report experiencing racism have greater rates of illnesses. While this body of research has been invaluable in advancing knowledge on health inequities, it still locates the experiences of racism at the individual level. Yet, the health of social groups is likely most strongly affected by structural, rather than individual, phenomena. The structural forms of racism and their relationship to health inequities remain under-studied. This article reviews several ways of conceptualizing structural racism, with a focus on social segregation, immigration policy, and intergenerational effects. Studies of disparities should more seriously consider the multiple dimensions of structural racism as fundamental causes of health disparities.