So far, the Covid-19 virus has taken the lives of over 420,000 people worldwide. In the United States alone, there have been over 2,000,000 confirmed cases, and 117,000 deaths. African-Americans have accounted over one third of coronavirus fatalities, even though they make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population. So why is this? Pre existing inequities tied to race, socio-economic status, and access to healthcare are contributing factors as to why there are a disproportionate number of deaths between black and white people. In Wisconsin, African-Americans are only 6 percent of the population, but make up 40 percent of Covid-19 deaths. Socio-economic disparities between communities of color and white people have led to a difference in health outcomes due to lack of accessible resources for many inner city communities. Covid-19 has brought to light the impact of years of environmental racism and systemic oppression. As a direct result of slavery, colonization, and segregation, people of color have been forced to occupy inner city neighborhoods, which are much more susceptible to infection than suburbs or affluent parts of the city. People of color have never been as successful as their white counterparts because of generations of violence against them. On top of that, the government has enforced capitalism as a system grounded in white colonialism to ensure POC continue to live life in the cycle of poverty. Food deserts, medical apartheid, and poor air quality are just a few factors that contribute to higher rates of heart disease, asthma, and high blood pressure in inner city neighborhoods. These diseases leave individuals with compromised immune systems and leads to a lower survival rate of Covid-19. In hospitals and centers where Covid-19 is being treated, there have been far too many occasions when doctors and nurses disregard black patients. This stems from the false stereotype that black people can sustain pain more than white people, and they therefore receive less or no treatments. Bringing forth equality in the U.S. will only come once everyone acknowledges the systemic racism and oppression that marginalized groups face in this country, and actively work to reconstruct these systems.
2020 has been no normal year. It has been full of unpredictability, which makes us uncomfortable.