If you haven’t heard the news yet, here are the sobering facts: the vast majority percentage of the people dying from the Coronavirus in cities and counties across America are Black. In Chicago and Louisiana, 70% of those who died from COVID-19 are Black even though the population of Blacks is not above 35% for both.
Looking at the stats, one has to wonder why these racial disparities exists. Just like the cause and effect relationship of many societal issues, this racial disparity is also a product of various factors.
Here are just 5 of the main reasons why Blacks are dying from the Coronavirus at much higher rates.
1. Higher percentage of Blacks work in service jobs
Millions of Americans are comfortably working from home as the vast majority of states have ordered their citizens to stay home. Millions of others, however, are still going into work to make sure essential services are still open.
Some of these essential workers are medical professionals and first responders. Others, on the other hand, are the millions of service industry workers that are working tirelessly to make sure we are still getting our food, deliveries, transportations, and take-outs.
Black workers are overrepresented in service jobs, which means that far more of us will not be able to work from home. That means, far more Blacks will have to take the chance of exposing themselves to the virus if they choose to continue to work.
WATCH our short video on this matter below.
2. Suffering from preexisting conditions at higher rates
According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, “African American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes by a physician.” More than 40% of non-Hispanic African Americans have high blood pressure. Last but not least, African Americans are also 3 times more likely to die from Asthma related complications than Whites.
These are staggering difference.
And why do these specific chronic disease matter? Because they have been cited as some of the most common pre-existing conditions that could turn the coronavirus deadly for those infected.
Why Blacks suffer from these pre-existing condition at higher rates is also another issue that should be dissected further. Some factors include living in food desserts (“meaning that they live more than one mile from a supermarket in urban or suburban areas and more than 10 miles from a supermarket in rural areas”) where they don’t have easy access to healthy food options, living in highly polluted areas, consuming unhealthy traditional foods, living in unsafe neighborhoods that cause both physical and mental harm, and much more.
3. Disparity in Health Insurance Coverage
Since health insurance has historically been tied to employment in the United States, Blacks have had higher rates of being uninsured. The number of those without health care insurance dropped since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, but Blacks still remain as the highest group of the uninsured in America.
This means not having an easy access to a doctor that can check symptoms and then possibly refer a person to a coronavirus testing site. It also means those without health insurance will wait until the last minute to get medical attention out of fear of affording the life saving care they need out of pocket.
4. Lingering Distrust in the Medical Profession
It is no secret that Blacks in America have a justified mistrust of the government, police, and medical professionals. One only needs to say the words Tuskegee experiment to get chills running down Black peoples’ spines.
And more recently, there have been repeated cases of Black women dying from pregnancy and child birth at much higher rates partly due to medical care providers not taking the pain of Black women seriously.
So at times like these, when a pandemic is sweeping through the country, will Blacks be rushing to medical providers when they are getting clear symptoms of the illness? Some will, but a good portion won’t because of this lingering distrust.
It is difficult to say Black people should just get over this distrust because these cases are not something that happened centuries ago. They continue to still happen today. The ramification of this broken relationship between Blacks and the medical profession is something we are witnessing now. It is also something that will continue to hurt the community.
5. Conspiracy Theory Obsession
It wasn’t long after the spread of the Coronavirus became apparent that various, sometimes wild, conspiracy theories about the cause of the virus or the illness started to pop up on social media. Some believe it is a man made virus meant to wipe out specific group of people while others blame 5G network towers.
Other theories claim the coronavirus is just fake news concocted by the government to take civil liberties away from its citizens.
These conversations are especially wide spread in Black discussion groups across the web. Blacks have a long and complicated relationship with conspiracy theories. When you’re the minority group in a society that has kept you as slaves and then hindered your prosperity for decades and decades after through systematic racism, it’s easy to understand why.
The FBI had Malcom X assassinated. LAPD or pharmaceuticals had Nipsey Hussle Killed. Tupac is still alive in Cuba. These are just some of the widely believed conspiracy theories that are still highly debated.
When it comes to a pandemic, however, believing in conspiracy theories can be deadly for some. These beliefs will then lead some to not take the necessary precautions to avoid getting struck by the virus. It will lead some to host birthday parties and Easter parties when state wide social distancing measures are taking place. It will lead some to carelessly expose others without knowing they themselves have the virus already.
The above 5 reasons have created the perfect storm for a virus that easily transmissible and quick to kill those who are vulnerable and almost non-existent to other who catch it but are asymptotic.