#RaceAnd Pandemics: Covid-19 and global diseases through a structural lens

Fri, May 8, 2020 11:00 AM – 1:00

“Hundreds of years of racism has delivered poor health and economic outcomes for black people, making them more vulnerable in the pandemic.” (Vox.com)

As POTUS continues to call Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” in press conferences, and as attacks on Asian folks increase in public forums and spaces, there is no doubt that the current global pandemic is racialized. Moreover, early regional and national data on race indicates that Black, Latinx, and Native communities are being hit the hardest by this pandemic. However, the racialization of Covid-19 is not only harmful to communities of color on an individual and interpersonal level. It is also representative of the way systemic and structural racism that have plagued our country for centuries and continue to operate in public health and other institutions and sectors.

Take for example, the way social media, jokes, stories, and even news reports have reinforced the myth that certain groups are immune to some diseases, such as black people being immune from Covid. The resurgence of this myth, along with centuries of structural racism, have contributed to black folks suffering the most deaths from Covid-19 in different cities, even when they compose only a small part of the city’s population.The disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black bodies is deeply rooted on structural racism.

The racialization of Covid-19 is not new and in fact continues a pattern present throughout the history of the racialization of diseases and pandemics in the United States.

This webinar will use a systemic racial analysis to dig into the structural roots of the racialization of global diseases. We will look at examples in history of when diseases have been racialized to show that:

1. The racialization of diseases is rooted in structural racism – in interconnected policies, practices, institutions, culture, and ideologies that disenfranchise Black and Brown people.

2. The racialization of diseases advance systemic racial inequities that cause long term harm to generations of Black, Indigenous, and POC (BIPOC) persons and their communities.

Covid-19 is not the first nor is likely the last pandemic that we will see during our lifetime. This webinar will allow participants to sharpen their racial analysis while applying a structural frame that addresses the long term roots and impacts of the racialization of diseases. We hope that folks will bring this lens back to their institutions, organizations, and communities as a tool to shift the conversation on racism from individual to systemic, as we grapple with finding long-lasting solutions in the time of Covid-19 and beyond. With this knowledge, participants will be able to address the inequities that are not only present now, but that will also arise at the beginning of the next pandemic.

At Race Forward, we believe that because racism is systemic, our analysis and solutions must also be systemic.

We will be using zoom for this webinar and will be sending logistics information a few days before.

(Photo: Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplash)

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