Racial Inequalities and the Coronavirus
Over the course of the past few months the newspapers, instagram accounts and websites we frequent have been bombarded with two main stories; those being the coronavirus and racism/police brutality. Given the omnipresence of the Coronavirus’ reach and the recent media coverage of specific counts of police brutality in the US, this is understandable. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a team of Minneapolis Police Officers, we must remember that Floyd is one in a sea of victims of racism and police brutality in the US and also throughout the globe; there are countless other victims and infractions that go unrecorded, hidden from justice. Floyds death has given rise to the increase in awareness and discussion surrounding the issues of racism, prejudice and discrimmination across the globe, including in our own community, here at ecolint.
In the UK, in 1807 the Act for the Abolition of the Slave trade, which prohibited the slave trade within the British Empire was passed. Smilirarily, in the US, on December 6, 1865, the Congress-passed 13th Amendment was finally ratified. Essentially, this change to the US constitution signposted an end to slavery. The efficacy of these bills and similar ones passed in other nations are highly debated. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize the legacy of slavery and how its repurcussions can still be felt today; nearly 200 years from when it was first abolished. It could be argued that slavery laid the foundations for the systemic racism inherent to our modern societies today, and perhaps the most contemporary example of its repercussions is the link between race and the coronavirus.
The article shall be focussing on data from the US to demonstrate how Black, Latino, Native Americans and other minority communities are much more likely to contract and die from the coronavirus. Furthermore, these groups are also at a greater risk to experience economic and social hardship as a result of their infection.
The state of Michigan has been profoundly affected by the coronavirus. In July 2020, there were just under 75,000 confirmed cases and 6,300 deaths. Within the state of Michigan, African Americans make up 14% of the population but account for 40% of cases that resulted in death. Furthermore, African Americans and Latinos were 3 times more likely to become infected as their white counterparts and twice as likely to die once the virus has been contracted. These higher rates of infection and death create a whole cascade of other effects and repercussions which only reinforce existing disparities between races and strengthen the nature of systemic racism.
“Since March 13, 43% of white households experienced reduced employment income, However, even higher numbers of Asian American, Black, and Hispanic or Latino households have lost income—49 percent, 54 percent, and 63 percent, respectively.”
Furthermore, “according to the Census Bureau data, from May 28 to June 2, Black and Hispanic or Latino households were twice as likely as their white counterparts to report that they sometimes or often do not have enough to eat.”
Additionally, “9 percent of white homeowners with a mortgage missed or deferred their mortgage payment last month, a shocking 20 percent of Black homeowners did so. People of color are also twice as likely to have slight or no confidence that they will be able to make next month’s payment.”
“51 percent of white Americans, 62 percent of Black Americans, 59 percent of Asian Americans, and 63 percent of Hispanic or Latino Americans were bothered by “not being able to stop or control worrying.”
As the above data demonstrates; food, mental health, housing, income and race are all interconnected. These are all basic human rights, but the racial discrepancies and disparities that arte occurring exemplify how this is a society built on the backbone of racism and slavery. It may be argued that it is the decades of discrimination, subtle indoctrination and abasement of minority groups which are the culprit for the racialé inequalities when it comes to treatment of the cornavirus and the reprurcussions of social confinement.
Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York, in his press conference on the 31st of march stated that “This virus is the great equalizer...” Other politicians and celebrities, such as Madonna
Share this view. Madonna shared an Instagram video in which she said that “It's (the coronavirus) the great equalizer and what's terrible about it is what's great about it." However, is this true? Can we truly maintain that this virus is helping chip away at any of the existing disparities that existed in the US? On the contrary, this virus is helping propagate those disparities and among them being the racial divide between african americans and other minority groups and white Americans.
If we do not make a change, it is these minority groups that will be further disadvantaged and that will have a greater struggle in a post covid world.
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FawcettSociety. “WATCH NOW: Coronavirus Is Deepening Racial Inequalities - What Needs to Change? - 17/06/2020 18:45:00.” Fawcett Society, www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/Event/coronavirus-is-deepening-racial-inequalities-what-needs-to-change.
“Killing of George Floyd.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 5 July 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killing_of_George_Floyd.
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Owoseje, Toyin. “Coronavirus Is 'the Great Equalizer,' Madonna Tells Fans from Her Bathtub.” CNN, Cable News Network, 23 Mar. 2020, edition.cnn.com/2020/03/23/entertainment/madonna-coronavirus-video-intl-scli/index.html.
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