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For season 2 of “Color Code,” we’re zooming into the birthplace of American suburbs and the place where I grew up: Long Island, N.Y.

Suburban communities in the U.S. have a reputation for being largely white, wealthy, and healthy, but the reality is much more complex. People from a wide swath of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds call suburbia home. And within these communities, there are vast differences in health outcomes and life expectancies that can vary widely depending on ZIP codes and neighborhoods, and sometimes even within a few blocks or across train tracks. Despite the impact these disparities have on families and communities, they are frequently overlooked and understudied.


-- Health Equity coverage from STAT
“Color Code” host Nicholas St. Fleur (right) as a child in Long Island. Courtesy Nicholas St. Fleur

Each episode this season will investigate how where you live affects your health. We’ll speak with researchers, patients, clinicians, and advocates on the health disparities Long Islanders face and how communities here are trying to close these gaps. We will also look at how these trends represent similar outcomes across the United States.

In this first episode, we dive into the history and current reality of segregation on Long Island, and how ripples from this history still have profound effects on health today. We speak with Martine Hackett, an expert on suburban public health — with a particular focus on Long Island, who co-founded Birth Justice Warriors, a group that aims to reduce maternal and infant mortality. Hackett explains her work as one of a handful of researchers investigating suburban racial health disparities in a field that largely suffers from “academic silence.”

Aerial view of Levittown, NY in 1949 - Health Equity coverage from STAT
Aerial view of Levittown, N.Y., in 1949. Levittown is known as the first post-WWII suburb, and it’s the first mass developed suburb in the U.S. Levittown Public Library

A transcript of this episode is available here


To read more on some of the topics discussed in the episode:

This podcast was made possible with support from the Commonwealth Fund.