The COVID-19 pandemic has hit all of humankind severely. It hit the poor, the migrants, and the Black community more than others. However, certain groups have been “double disadvantaged” — affected by the pandemic more than others due to their social status.
According to the WHO, “Unequal living conditions are a consequence of structurally unequal conditions” and put certain groups at a disadvantage. This has widely been evident during the pandemic and can be studied through the lens of Black men who were unjustly affected by the pandemic.
A very famous line goes: “When White people catch a Cold, Black folks get Pneumonia.” This represents the plight of our community. The Brookings institute came up with a modified version of the same in this pandemic, stating that if “America catches coronavirus, Black people die.” The institute noted a higher percentage of contraction of the virus and deaths among the Blacks than Whites since the pandemic. While they are 15-16% of the population in Michigan and Illinois, their share in those affected by the virus was higher — at 30-35% in these states. The situation in these states has just been mirrored in the other states like Louisiana.
Black men are more likely to be a part of the “frontline workforce” when others stay home. They are more likely to be working as janitors, cashiers, and drivers and delivering food and medicines, and hence, they are prone to catching the virus and being unaware of it. In the absence of proper diagnostic facilities and protections to them, the impact of the virus widened.
During the pandemic, when the world was coming together to help each other out, Black men were still being discriminated against. Although this was prevalent much before the pandemic, the past two years have brought this discrimination into light, as happened in the case of the killing of George Floyd. Many reports have suggested discrimination the Black people faced while availing healthcare facilities during the pandemic. They also faced suspicion from people around as they were masked, which, although it was a need of the hour, shopkeepers and passersby have looked at them with a precarious eye.
Pew Research claims that for the Black community, the effect of the pandemic was much more than medical and financial. 40% of Asians and Blacks have sensed discomfort in how others looked at them during the pandemic because of their race and ethnicity. Black men and women have had such an experience. 69% of Blacks have confirmed that they wear masks in public places, and 42% of them worry about being looked at with suspicion because they are “a Black man with a mask.”
While Black men have been at the forefront of the pandemic, and both have greatly suffered and contributed to the mitigation, they have not been highlighted. Instead, they have been subject to more discrimination and othering. Black men were the ones who were affected more, they were systematically deprived of equal aid and support, and more than that, in an age and time when people should get closer and support one another, they were discriminated against, looked at with suspicion, and even denied healthcare support to its best form.
The Black Male Archives Team
Categories: BMA Exclusive