How is anti-Blackness compounding with COVID-19 in different settings?


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Robrerto E. Barrios's picture
June 11, 2020

In New Orleans, African American communities were not only hit hard by Katrina's floods, but also by violent policing during the catastrophe and a disaster "recovery" effort that was fundamentally Anti-Black (closing of publich housing and the privatization of schools and health care). Recovery efforts were not organized along ideals of racial justice that would have addressed gaps in educational and health care resources. Instead, they were imagined along neoliberal principles that systematically excluded the city's Black population. I am interested in looking into how the Anti-Blackness of Katrina "recovery" set the stage for the virulent way COVID 19 is affecting New Orleans' African American communities.

In the US Virgin Islands, Hurricanes Maria and Irma decimated what were already decrepit public school and public health systems. Public schools and hospitals had not been property repaired and remained under-supported as of early March 2020. In places like the Island of St. Croix, residents reported the hospital having only one physicial on staff, and indicated fear of misdiagnosis and prolonged waiting times kept them from seeking health care there. The clientelle of the public health system is predominantly Afro and Hispanic Caribbean. Meanwhile, US "mainlanders" (who are predominantly white) are reported to seek their healthcare off island, something only those with ample financial resources can do. Infection rates and fatality rates for the USVI seem rather low from official reports, but it is important to find out if this is because testing itself is not readily avialable in the territory.

James Adams's picture
June 10, 2020

According to this article by Nicole Westmen (2020), police violence has been tied to the development of numerous underlying conditions that increase the risk of complications from COVID-19. Furthermore, experiences of police brutality have been shown to foment distrust with other institutions, including medical institutions. As a result, contact tracers are experiencing resistance to divulging such important information as whether or not COVID-19 patients attended a protest and who they might have encountered there, for fear of retaliation.