The coronavirus has already hit Black America harder than other segments of society. African Americans have contracted and died of coronavirus at disproportionate rates.
The pandemic is exposing historical injustices, disinvestment in Black communities and the impact of residential segregation, according to Dr. Camara Jones, a family physician, epidemiologist and visiting fellow at Harvard University.
Jones spent 13 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where her work focused on identifying, measuring and addressing racial bias in the medical system. “This is the time to name racism as the cause of all of those things,” Jones told ProPublica. “The overrepresentation of people of color in poverty and white people in wealth is not just a happenstance…It’s because we’re not valued.”
This is evident in cities across the country, especially in large urban areas.
In Chicago, Black residents make up more than half of all cases and about 70 percent of those who’ve died of the disease, but represent just 30 percent of the city’s population, The Verge reported.
African Americans comprise a third of all cases and 40 percent of deaths in Michigan, where they make up just 14 percent of the state’s population. In Louisiana, 70 percent of people who’ve died of COVID-19 through April 6 were African Americans who represent a third of the state’s population.
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Black people in New Yorker state comprise 18 percent of COVID-19 (outside of New York City), despite being 9 percent of the population. In New York City, Hispanic and Black people have died at rates 5-to-6 percent higher than their share of the population, The Verge reported.
“The disparities that have plagued this city, this nation, that are all about fundamental inequality are once again causing such pain and causing innocent people to lose their lives,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference. “It’s sick. It’s troubling. It’s wrong.”
Was the Black community set up by to be hit harder by COVID-19? The evidence points to “yes.”
COVID-19 has highlighted U.S. health inequalities, which helped lead to the disproportionate number of African American infections and deaths, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a recent White House press briefing.
Other medical experts agree with Fauci. “It’s not their genes. It’s the social conditions that we have created,” said David Williams, a professor of public health at Harvard who researches how race and class affect health, The Verge reported. “I hope this is a wake-up call for America.”
Corporate America (Trump) has called for workers to get back to work sooner rather than later. Will people wake up to see how Black people — disproportionately affected during the quarantine — will be disproportionately affected if they are sent back to work?
Goldman Sachs senior chair Lloyd Blankfein recently tweeted: “Extreme measures to flatten the virus ‘curve’ is sensible — for a time … But crushing the economy, jobs and morale is also a health issue — and beyond. Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.”
The first to go back to work will likely be workers in service jobs, which are filled mainly with Black and brown workers.
It is no surprise that Black workers constitute the new low-wage economy. , From security guards to fast-food workers, Black people over-index in service jobs and the gig economy.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are high numbers of Black workers in home health care (30.5 percent of the industry). High percentages of Black workers are also in the postal service (27.2 percent), couriers and messengers (25.1 percent), and warehouse and storage jobs (23.8 percent).
At Walmart, the largest U.S. private employer, for example, people of color made up 37 percent of the workforce in 2019. And about 20 percent of Walmart service and sales workers were African American.
These numbers highlight how Black workers seem to be locked out of higher-paying professional jobs.
Black workers are chronically underrepresented compared with whites in high-salary jobs in technology, business, life sciences, and architecture and engineering, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data.
The jobs open to Black people tend to be in low-wage, less-prestigious fields where they’re overrepresented, such as food service or preparation, building maintenance and office work, the AP analysis pointed out.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 70: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin goes solo to discuss the COVID-19 crisis. He talks about the failed leadership of Trump, Andrew Cuomo, CDC Director Robert Redfield, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, and New York Mayor de Blasio.
A white worker is more likely than a Black one to hold a job in the 11 categories with the highest median annual salaries, as ranked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The ratio of white-to-Black workers is about 10-to-1 in management, 8-to-1 in computers and mathematics, 12-to-1 in law, and 7-to-1 in education — compared with a ratio of 5.5 white workers for every Black worker in all jobs nationally, USA Today reported. The top five high-paying fields have a median income range of $65,000 to $100,000, compared with $36,000 for all occupations nationwide.
Black workers will be the ones most likely called back to work earlier, putting them more at risk.