It seems that a healthy handful of White folks wait to express their outrage and disgust over racial injustice after a highly publicized or sensationalized tragedy takes place. Often, after a new hashtag begins trending on social media, a variety of tweets and posts speaking out against anti-Blackness and anti-Black violence soon follow. Which, I suppose, is fine, but very few extend far beyond their comfort zone in their advocacy efforts. This is not to say that allyship in any form is not helpful, but it’s time to start being clear about what is needed and what ultimately perpetuates White supremacy and further insulates White guilt. Let’s be honest: to combat anti-Blackness in America, we don’t need allies. We need abolitionists.
While following the Derek Chauvin trial, I’ve noticed one common theme that also struck me immediately following the gruesome killing of George Floyd – White people speaking out against racism after the fact. It seems that a healthy handful of White folks wait to express their outrage and disgust over racial injustice after a highly publicized or sensationalized tragedy takes place.
While COVID-19 has killed 1 out of every 800 African Americans, a toll that overwhelms the imagination, even more stunning is the deadly efficiency with which it has targeted young Black men like Bates. One study using data through July found that Black people ages 35 to 44 were dying at nine times the rate of white people the same age, though the gap slightly narrowed later in the year. And in an analysis for ProPublica this summer using the only reliable data at the time accounting for age, race and gender, from Michigan and Georgia, Harvard researcher Tamara Rushovich found that the disparity was greatest in Black men.
They were pillars of their communities and families, and they are not replaceable. To understand why COVID-19 killed so many young Black men, you need to know the legend of John Henry.
The Rev. Dr. Kejuane Artez Bates was a big man with big responsibilities. The arrival of the novel coronavirus in Vidalia, Louisiana, was another burden on a body already breaking under the load. Bates was in his 10th year with the Vidalia Police Department, assigned as a resource officer to the upper elementary school.
The world was gaslit by misreporting about George Floyd’s initial autopsy report. As concerned physicians, we write to deconstruct the misinformation and condemn the ways this weaponization of medical language reinforced white supremacy at the torment of Black Americans.
George Floyd’s Autopsy and the Structural Gaslighting of America
The weaponization of medical language emboldened white supremacy with the authority of the white coat. How will we stop it from happening again?
On Sunday, Feb. 23, two days after the Zulu Ball, President Trump set the tone for the country, the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans when he said at a news conference: “We have it very much under control in the country.” On Monday, Feb. 24, when an estimated 200,000 people spent the day at Lundi Gras, sponsored by the Zulu club, enjoying a smorgasbord of New Orleans food and music on three stages at Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River, he reiterated on Twitter that the disease was “under control.” According to an internal memo, however, Trump had already been warned by his own trade adviser about the potential of half a million deaths and an economic hemorrhage of trillions of dollars as a result of the pandemic.
‘A Terrible Price’: The Deadly Racial Disparities of Covid-19 in America
For the Zulu club, a black social organization in New Orleans, Mardi Gras was a joy. The coronavirus made it a tragedy.
• This deadly pandemic has no boundaries, but its impact on the Black community reflects deeply-rooted inequality. Stark disparities have long existed in health care, such as lack of access to hospitals, insurance, and affordable health care. African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and live in communities with inadequate health care facilities. These are compounded by environmental, economic, and political factors.
• The United States has more confirmed COVID-19 cases than any other country. There are over 1 million cases. More than 70,000 Americans have died. The numbers continue to rise each day.
• As the incidence of COVID-19 cases and deaths rises, we see shocking numbers that the Black community is experiencing the worst outcomes. In almost every location reporting data, African Americans are harmed-both in infections and fatalities-in higher percentages.
• African Americans hold more of the low paying jobs in the service industry, including grocery store workers and bus drivers, where they are exposed first and more often. Fewer than 20% of Black workers are able to work from home compared with 1/3 of white counterparts.
• We cannot allow our people to fall into debt or destroy their financial futures as a result of this man-made pandemic. Housing and student-debt remain massive expenses facing most Americans, that far exceeds the slow growth of wages.
• Before any state can re-open, the nation requires aggressive testing and contract-tracing operations in place so that new cases can be isolated and treated. We are nowhere near that. Federal guidelines advise states to show a sustained decrease in COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period before easing restrictions. That hasn’t happened anywhere.
The Culpeper branch of the NAACP holds its regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m. on the 3rd Thursday of each month. We are currently meeting at Antioch Baptist Church at 202 S. West Street, Culpeper, 22701. All are welcome; you do not have to be a member to attend.