The pandemic has changed our lives in drastic ways and has shone a light on the structural inequalities in our society. Black and brown communities bear a disproportionately larger health and economic burden than the white population. Black workers are more likely to be employed in essential services, and such employment often carries no sick leave or a way to work remotely. Black workers are also about 50% more likely to work in the healthcare and social assistance industry. They are 40% more likely to work in hospitals than white workers. This leaves the black population that much more vulnerable to contracting and dying from COVID-19.
Distressingly, in this time of crisis, acts of explicit racism and hate crimes against people of color are more prevalent than ever. In Miami, Armen Henderson, a black doctor on his way to help the homeless, was handcuffed on his front lawn by a white police officer. In North Carolina, an all-white armed mob, including a local deputy, demanded entry into the Shepard family’s home, claiming the son was a suspect in a missing person case. In Georgia, two white men killed Ahmaud Arbery and were not arrested until his murder received national attention more than two months later. In New York City, a white woman called the police and fabricated a threat to her life from Christian Cooper, a black man. In Louisville, police forced their way into Breonna Taylor’s home and killed her. And in Minneapolis, a white police officer killed George Floyd in a ruthless and brutal act of murder. The list goes on.
These are the direct consequence of prejudice and the institutional racism embedded in our healthcare system, our judicial system, in Wall Street and on Main Street. With the #WEAREDONEDYING campaign, the NAACP says, Enough!
As fellow Americans, we have a choice: Accept these brutal disparities, or stand up for each other and embrace change together. Now is the time for our American community to stop turning a colorblind eye and face the challenges that our shared history demands we overcome.
ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY NAACP
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!