“America Set up Black Communities to be Harder hit by COVID-19,” ran the headline of an April 8 article in The Verge by “science reporter” Justine Calma. “The COVID-19 pandemic is piling on top of a litany of health inequalities in America to kill a disproportionate number of African Americans,” Calma contends, citing Chicago, where African Americans are about 30 percent of the population but “more than half” the coronavirus cases and “about 70 percent of those who have died of the disease.”
“Black People Are Dying From COVID-19 at Higher Rates Because Racism Is a Preexisting Condition,” headlined an April 9 Mother Jones piece by Edwin Rios. He cites Dr. Camara Jones, an epidemiologist who worked at the Centers for Disease Control, that “this disproportionate effect is a social issue in the guise of an epidemiological one.” More basically, “what the COVID-19 pandemic is unveiling is the structural racism.” Black people dying more frequently in the pandemic is “an impact of racism,” and the coronavirus itself could be racist.
“The coronavirus entered Milwaukee from a white, affluent suburb. Then it took root in the city’s black community and erupted,” proclaim Akila Johnson and Talia Buford in their April 3 ProPublica piece. African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases, the authors say, and 81 percent of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26 percent black, all part of the “disproportionate destruction” on black communities nationwide.
“It’s almost like structural racism has made black people sick,” Brooklyn emergency physician Uché Blackstock told Vox. Derrick Johnson of the NAACP also blamed “systemic racism” for making African Americans more vulnerable to the virus. On the other hand, Johnson told PBS, “black adults suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma, which make them more susceptible.” That is in fact the case.
According to “Race and Socioeconomic Differences in Obesity and Depression among Black and Non-Hispanic White Americans,” from National Institutes of Health library, “there are significant racial and ethnic disparities in obesity prevalence rates, with African Americans being 51 percent more likely to be obese compared to non-Hispanic Whites.” Obesity is a serious health issue in itself and also associated with “adverse proximal and distal health outcomes,” including hypertension and diabetes. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, an African American, recognizes those realities.
“COVID-19 affects people who have chronic disease, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, disproportionately,” Adams explained. “Communities of color unfortunately have a higher incidence of diabetes, of heart disease, of lung disease. And so that puts them at higher risk also.” The Surgeon General acknowledges that all people bear some responsibility for their own condition.
State and local health departments were working day and night “to protect you, regardless of your color, creed or your geography,” Adams said last Friday. Still, “I need you to know that you’re not helpless,” so in addition to the guidelines, “avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. And call your friends and family. Check on your mother, she wants to hear from you right now.”
For the “structural racism” evangelists of the left, nobody bears responsibility for anything, and all problems of black people are due to moral lapses by those repressive people of no color. To say the least, this overlooks some key realities.
The cities where this disproportion attack is going on are ruled by Democrat Party mayors such as Tom Barrett of Milwaukee and Mike Duggan of Detroit. Also missing from the analysis are Democrats’ massive anti-poverty programs such as Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and vaunted War on Poverty. Since the 1960s these programs spent countless billions, a strange action for a system of structural racism, which apparently endured for eight years during the administrations of a African American president.
According to Akila Johnson and Talia Buford, the coronavirus, “entered Milwaukee from a white, affluent suburb,” yet the authors are untroubled by its origins in Wuhan, China and its spread to the United States. Of course, to point out that the virus is “associated with China,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein contends, leads to “a rise in racism toward Asian Americans.”
Meanwhile, as of April 11, Italy marked 18,849 deaths from COVID-19 and Sweden 870. Likewise, New York counted 7887 deaths, with 82 slain by the disease in Mississippi. Statistical disparities are the rule rather than the exception, as Thomas Sowell has noted, but the structural racism crowd ignores that reality.
According to proportionality dogma, everything must reflect the racial and ethnic breakdown of society, and if it does not, the cause must be racism. Thus, the disparate casualties from COVID-19 have nothing to do with medical or personal factors and must all be attributed to racism by people of no color.
“Racism is a preexisting condition,” the headline proclaims, “America set up black communities to be harder hit by COVID-19,” and “It’s almost like structural racism has made black people sick.” That’s absurd, but if anybody called it out as racist it would be hard to blame them.