Thursday April 9, 2020
Being Black in America means I am more likely to have diabetes, high blood pressure, sickle cell disease and to die from complications related to those diseases than the rest of the population.
Being Black in America means that I have a higher chance of living in poverty, being homeless, and being unemployed (and underemployed).
Being Black means I have a greater change of being shot, being a victim of a violent crime (as well as being a victim of any crime) and of going to jail as a perpetrator of a crime.
Being Black in America means I am less likely to graduate from high school and less likely to go to college (let alone any other institutions of higher learning).
And now it appears that I can add Corona virus to the list of things that negatively effect us more than others in this country.
A feature article in the New York Times from April 8th lays out the issues in frightening detail. Here are a few quotes from the article that I find most disheartening.
For many public health experts, the reasons behind the disparities are not difficult to explain, the result of longstanding structural inequalities. At a time when the authorities have advocated staying home as the best way to avoid the virus, black Americans disproportionately belong to part of the work force that does not have the luxury of working from home, experts said. That places them at high risk for contracting the highly infectious disease in transit or at work.
Longstanding inequalities also make African-Americans less likely to be insured, and more likely to have existing health conditions and face racial bias that prevents them from getting proper treatment.
Initial indications are that doctors are less likely to refer African-Americans for testing when they visit a clinic with symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. Since the disease can progress quickly, researchers say, a disparity in testing can lead to considerably worse outcomes. A lack of early communication about the threat of Covid-19 and confusing messages that followed left an information vacuum in some black communities that allowed false rumors to fester that black people were immune to the disease. Some places ended up behind in taking measures to slow the spread.
“These communities, structurally, they’re breeding grounds for the transmission of the disease,” Dr. Barber said. “It’s not biological. It’s really these existing structural inequalities that are going to shape the racial inequalities in this pandemic.”
For me this pandemic underlines the fact that we have not defeated racism. For it’s effects, having become embedded in the social structure of the nation, are raging on. We have not undone the damage. That work of justice is still before us.