As the stock markets tank and global fears rise over the coronavirus, I’m super concerned about the hood. Marginalized people in the United States could be hit hard for a lot of different reasons that I want to unpack this for us. In spite of urban legends that I keep hearing saying that “Africans can’t get coronavirus,” that’s simply just not true. And it’s dangerous. No particular ethnic group is more at risk and no particular ethnic group is more immune to the coronavirus. At its essence, COVID-19 is simply a super-flu. And the World Health Organization says we are on the verge of it becoming a global pandemic.
For the following five reasons, the hood is incredibly vulnerable right now. Let me explain why:
The CDC announced that if you are sick, you should stay home. But nearly 40 million working Americans, who often live in low-income Black and Brown communities, can’t stay home. Do you know why? Because the United States is one of the only nations in the world without mandatory paid sick leave. Nearly 40 million Americans literally either do not have sick days to take off or simply cannot afford the loss in income. What this means is that marginalized Americans go to work sick. It happens daily. They have to.
In privileged communities around the country, colleges and schools are being shut down. But guess what? In New York City alone, nearly 750,000 children from low-income or homeless families completely rely on attending school for food, cleaning themselves, and even doing laundry. Not only that, but those children do not usually have families that are privileged enough to simply stay home with their kids for days on end. We already see this across the country - low income children come to school, even when they are terribly sick, because they have to. It’s the fault of our corrupt nation for creating systems that fail to protect the most vulnerable amongst us.
Public transportation is particularly risky for the spread of the coronavirus. But marginalized communities rely on busses and trains all over the country. In the neighborhood I live in, it’s the primary means of transportation for most people.
Nearly 27.5 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured. This is an abomination. Again, the United States is one of the only developed countries in the world without universal healthcare. And so the people who will end up needing care and treatment often cannot afford it. So, as the CDC says that people with symptoms should go see a doctor or go to the emergency room, if you don’t have health insurance, or have huge deductibles and co-pays, people just try to tough that shit out. Shame on our nation for not having universal healthcare.
Sadly, in part because we lack our own reliable, popular news sources, our people are particularly vulnerable to myths, rumors, urban legends, and just plain ‘ol bullshit ranging from who can and cannot get the virus, to outrageous methods of treatment, and cures. This type of misinformation is dangerous for marginalized communities and we must confront it any way we can.