OpEds | Narrative Change, Thought Leadership | COVID, Publications

The US’s Failed Response to the Pandemic Is Rooted in Anti-Blackness

With the speed of lightning, the coronavirus crisis is waking all of the U.S. up to a reality most Black people have known for decades — our country fails the most marginalized. Our systems were ill-prepared to help everyday people sans pandemic. Now in the midst of one, the sun is shining down on their cavernous cracks created by deep-seated anti-Blackness. The reality is we are a country built on a racist house of cards, and the pandemic is showing us how racism — specifically anti-Blackness — impairs our ability to respond, hurting all of us.

Anti-Blackness — the dehumanization, subjugation and lack of concern for Black people — exists in the makings of our neoliberal economy and almost every facet of U.S. politics. While most would concede that anti-Blackness existed in our history, many cannot see the continuation of anti-Blackness today. Coronavirus is making it very clear that entrenched inequities have a lot to do with anti-Black racism as data sets continue to show that Black people are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at shockingly high rates. We shouldn’t gloss over this fact or chalk it up to individual behavior of Black people. We should continue to advocate for disaggregated data on COVID-19 and dig deep to understand why this is happening. The answer holds the key to our collective well-being.

There has been a continued effort to deny Black people access to health care, which in turn impacts all people. For example, there is a shortage of hospitals across the country, particularly in rural communities and the South. These closures are due in part to the fact that the governments of many of the Confederate states refused to expand Medicare after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, due to anti-Black racism.

Click here to read Jhumpa’s full op-ed.