I wrote this because I believe misinformation, racial profiling, and a general — and warranted — distrust of the medical establishment put Black communities at disproportionate risk of coronavirus infection, misdiagnosis, and death.
Please enjoy this excerpt and head over to DAME magazine to read the full article
Around the middle of March, I paced back and forth down my driveway for two hours talking to my hometown Mississippi pastor explaining why they could not have church services on Sunday. I was incensed with just how much wasn’t shared in the black community about the dangers of COVID-19 and how it spreads. I heard myself saying things like, “Yes, this is a serious virus.” “No, I don’t think this will be over by Easter.” “Yes, you should plan to cancel all conferences and travel at least until May.” ”Yes, I still believe and I have faith, but even during Passover, God commanded that his people stay in the house.”
The confusion, lack of information, and unstable leadership amid a national health crisis have been mind-blowing. Communities of color, particularly in urban and impoverished places, are faced with addressing the Coronavirus in addition to the already staggering issues of environmental injustice, economic disparities, and health problems that have burdened us for generations.
We’re supposed to shelter in place, but the places we live are overwhelmed with air pollution, making our lands and water toxic. We’re supposed to keep our kids home and provide education but we are the essential workers that must report to duty, and live with failing infrastructure that can’t sustain broadband. We’re supposed to wear gloves and masks, but we suffer from racial profiling—even during a global pandemic—and are asked to leave the premises when doing the very things that are proposed to save lives. Has COVID-19 made the entire world forget about Trayvon Martin and the stigma of racial profiling? As one mother said to me bluntly, “You want me to ask my Black son to don a mask and walk into the bank? No, ma’am, we’ll just take our chances with Corona, we might survive that.” Her words couldn’t have a truer ring as we’ve all been horrified by the recent and all-too-familiar story of Ahmad Aubrey, the young Black man who was fatally shot while jogging in a Brunswick, Georgia community by two white men. My own stepson is a Black man who now lives in the Brunswick community. We spent many mornings running through our local neighborhoods in Mississippi. I can’t begin to think of what may happen if he went for a jog—wearing a mask …