The Barron's say “Race Still Matters During Coronavirus Pandemic”

Assemblymember Charles Barron Councilmember Inez Barron | 4/8/2020, 10:04 a.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking ...
Councilwoman Inez Barron and Assemblyman Charles Barron Lem Peterkin

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane”. Race is always a factor in American life for Black and Brown communities. East New York, Brownsville, East Elmhurst and other Black and Brown communities are suffering disproportionately with some of the highest number of cases of novel coronavirus infections and fatalities.

Historically, Black and Brown communities have been given inferior medical services, have been forced to live in environmentally hazardous neighborhoods, have a paucity of access to fresh foods, have higher maternal and infant mortality rates, have lower life expectancy, and a myriad of chronic health conditions—including diabetes, heart and liver disease. All of these pre-existing underlying conditions are factors that contribute to severe and fatal outcomes to those who contract the novel coronavirus.

Historically, Black and Brown people have been the victims of neglect and inadequate response to crisis, as seen in the aftermath of Katrina. We are demanding that Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio prioritize Black and Brown communities by immediately increasing opportunities for testing for the novel coronavirus. Since our communities are exhibiting higher numbers with just limited testing, by extrapolation there are even a greater number of cases that have not been diagnosed. Likewise, since it is the analysis of this type of data that determines the allocation of personal protective equipment, ventilators, and professional health care workers to our hospitals, our communities are being shortchanged. This is a matter of life and death.

Just as a ship has docked in Manhattan and the Javits Center is now a field hospital, and these predominantly white areas are being utilized to provide beds and resources to address this pandemic, the same kind of attention should be given to the hardest hit Black and Brown communities. While the virus does not discriminate, it has a greater impact on those against whom this society has discriminated for more than four hundred years.

Additionally, we are calling for Gov. Cuomo and Mayor deBlasio immediately to establish Task Forces in their respective levels of government to implement solutions offered to correct the conditions that lead to the health disparities that blatantly exist in Black and Brown communities.