by Layo Ajala…
What does racism have to do with the increasingly troubling pandemic that we are in the midst of? Just because the world shuts down does not mean the social structures in place stop being in effect. As the days go by an increasing number of black and brown bodies are being disproportionately affected by the Coronavirus. This is not to say that these black and brown individuals are more likely to contract the Coronavirus because they are people of color. This is to say that there are racialized social structures in place that have contributed to a lot of the reasons as to why a disportionate number of people of color are being affected by the virus.
What does all of this mean to me? As I navigate this now extremely isolated world as a black woman a lot of things have been on my mind. Privilege is a word that keeps on popping up in my head. I am thankful for my home and my family and the food on the table and clothes on my back. I am thankful that I am privileged enough to be able to have access to many things that I know a lot of lower income minorities do not. I believe that the Coronavirus pandemic has in part served to highlight a lot of the inequalities that exist in many spheres of America. health care inequality, environmental racism, resources inequality. Corona is showing us and the rest of the world that there is one overarching issue in America that is contributing to the increasing deaths in these black and brown communities: access. The resources are there, but the government is not taking into consideration the black and brown people who are disportionately affected by this virus. I’ve seen on social media that Corona is being seen as a great equalizer, it doesn’t discriminate, anyone can get it. I think that this is a really closed-minded view of the virus.
This whole issue of Black and Brown bodies being disportionately affected by Corona stems from the very beginning of this country. Since the establishment of the slave trade black people have been taught to continually not trust the white man. From the founding of the science of gynecology to the extremely high black maternity death rate this country has consistently shown Black and Brown communities that they should not trust doctors and the medical field. This distrust is another structural reason as to why COVID-19 is affecting these communities at a greater rate than their white counterparts.
A lot of these structures have been on my mind a lot during this quarantine. Personally, it gives me a great sense of worry when considering the possibility that me or someone close to me can get sick and then not be able to receive the proper health care. This is just another added stress that I am dealing with as the Corona virus continues to spread at an alarming and rapid rate. Recently a close family friend was tested and found to be COVID-19 positive and since then I have been in a constant state of stress. Are they being treated equally to the white patients?
When looking at the pandemic through a sociological lens it became clear that there are so many societal, economic, and political aspects at play that make it so states that have a small black majority have an extremely high death rate in these communities. In America, not all lives matter in the eyes of the general public, and it shows with the ways in which the wealth and resources are being distributed. The main takeaway that I would leave everyone with is that even during these trying and stressful times, try and take some time to check your privilege and be aware of those who are being forgotten about and are continually disenfranchised by the government. Remember that it is important to not only understand any privilege we may have but also to use our privilege to advocate for those who do not have as much agency as we do.