The Covid-19 pandemic has seen hardships brought to virtually everyone in the United States, but especially to the Black and Brown communities.
Some people may consider the pandemic to be a great equalizer that affects everyone the same, however, this is not the case. According to the CDC, Black people are 2.6 times more likely to get Covid-19 than white people.
Similarly, Latinx people are 2.8 times more likely, Native American people are 2.8 times more likely and Asian Americans are 1.1 times more likely to get Covid-19.
These statistical discrepancies are not random–systemic racism embedded in our country’s history plays a large role. Communities of color face discrimination in terms of their access to healthcare, education and housing: three crucial needs, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
Due to discriminatory housing practices, such as denying mortgages and loans based on location, Black, Latinx and other people of color have been forced to live in food deserts that are less likely to have adequate access to healthcare.
Along with living in underserved neighborhoods, people of color are more likely to work in essential jobs that are paid very little in grocery stores, public transportation, farms and other essential businesses across the country. These essential jobs involve interaction with the public, making it more difficult for employees to follow the recommended social distancing guidelines.
Phoenix Tudryn, member of Carrboro High School’s Black and Brown Student Coalition mentioned the unfairness of being an essential worker, especially since these jobs involve interaction with the public.
“This pandemic has made people choose between being able to pay their bills and being able to protect their families,” said Tudryn via email.
In addition to the pandemic, these past few months have seen a rise in Black Lives Matter protests in response to the murders of Black men and women at the hands of law enforcement. Black people and other people of color are more likely to be subject to violence by police officers than white people, a 2019 study showing that Black men are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by a police officer in their lifetimes. While white people have to worry about the pandemic, people of color also have to worry about their safety from the people who are supposed to protect them, in addition to having to fight for access to healthcare.
Since the pandemic has allowed more people to recognize these issues of racism in the US, many people of color feel like not enough action is being taken.
Rekiyah Bobbit, another member of the BBSC hopes that more people will take the time to listen to the problems the Black community is facing, not just to acknowledge them.
“I hope in the future that people get serious and start listening to the oppressed and break this cycle of hatred,” Bobbit said via email.
In reality, this pandemic is not a great equalizer that affects everyone the same way. When the pandemic goes away these communities will still be facing the same issues that Covid-19 emphasized, due to systemic racism and discriminatory practices that have plagued our history.
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