How and Why Communities of Color are Disproportionately Impacted by COVID-19
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential for communities to practice cooperation and solidarity. This means helping to flatten the curve by practicing social distancing, supporting local businesses and nonprofits, and looking out for our neighbors. Despite being physically apart, many of us feel a sense of unity in what feels like a shared experience. However, the coronavirus is not an equalizer–instead, it exacerbates issues brought on by systemic racism, and as a result, communities of color are being disproportionately impacted.
We know that staying home saves lives, but what about those who can’t stay home? According to the Economic Policy Institute, only 16.2% of Hispanic workers and 19.7% of black workers can telework. In industries that are considered non-essential, this translates to layoffs, and for essential workers, an ultimatum: continue working and risk exposure to COVID-19, or quit in economically uncertain times. Essential workers, from nurses and doctors to grocery store clerks and janitors, simply cannot practice social distancing.
Chronic Illness and Systemic Racism
Those with preexisting conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, are more likely to die from COVID-19. Communities for color are disproportionately impacted by these comorbidities, likely due to environmental factors such as poor air and water quality, food deserts, and low wages that make it difficult to access healthy food. Systemic racism, from wage disparities to redlining, are likely contributing factors to these conditions.
Why We Can’t “Return to Normal”
This inequities brought to light due to this pandemic make it clear that we should not and cannot “return to normal” once we flatten the curve. Until then, you can make a difference by donating (if you’re able to) to local food pantries, or nonprofits to help families in need. Stay informed and engaged in these issues by reading the additional resources below, and signing up for our weekly newsletter (available on our homepage), for more ways to take action. Not In Our Town Princeton and the Princeton Public Library will host their next series of Continuing Conversations on Race on May 4th, from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm. Join virtually for, “A critical examination of the realities of race, class and public health contradictions of the influenza pandemic of 1918 and COVID-19 in 2020.” Click here for more information and to register.
Additional Resources and Reading:
- 10 Ways to Fight for Social Justice During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Ring the Alarm: COVID-19 Presents Grave Danger to Communities of Color
- The Coronavirus Doesn’t Have a Race Problem—America’s Systems Do
- Black Skin, White Masks: Racism, Vulnerability & Refuting Black Pathology