They just won’t let African-Americans catch their breath - ABDULLAH MURADOĞLU
GAZETE YAZARI

They just won’t let African-Americans catch their breath

31 May 2020, 11.11

As the number of people who lost their lives from coronavirus in the U.S., which has become the epicenter of the global pandemic, exceeded 100,00, more than 30 million Americans have lost their jobs.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus outbreak became a mirror that reflects America's devastating inequalities.

The epidemic disproportionately affected the lower classes of the American society. Among these factions, Americans of color, especially Blacks, are the ones hardest-hit by the epidemic.

African-Americans are not only fighting epidemic and poverty but also institutionalized White Supremacy. The struggle for freedom and equality of the Blacks abducted from Africa centuries ago constitutes one of the darkest chapters in American history. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were among the Black leaders who lost their lives in this struggle.

"Institutional racism" and "economic inequality," which have a long history in the U.S., also impacted the fight against the epidemic.

The epidemic has left large segments of the society vulnerable with their limited access to healthcare.

According to studies, the reason for the prevalence of chronic diseases among African-Americans is "stress" and the "feeling of deprivation" caused by institutional racism.

COVID-19 kills people with chronic diseases, and therefore African-Americans are more likely to get infected and die in numbers that are highly disproportionate per capita to the population average.

The death rate of African-Americans is about three times that of White Americans. People of color, especially Blacks, work the heaviest jobs in the U.S. These people don't have the luxury of working from home. They are also those who work in essential sectors such as transportation, health and food supply networks.

These factions are also at the forefront of the fight against the inequality and poverty epidemic.

In the state of Wisconsin, African-Americans represent 6 percent of the population and 40 percent of the Covid-19 deaths. In Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S., Blacks make up 50 percent of coronavirus cases and 68 percent of deaths. In San Francisco, one-third of cases and over 80 percent of those hospitalized are Hispanic. In New York, Blacks die at twice the rate of their White peers. Seventy five percent of frontline hospital employees in New York are people of color.

In the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, the police killed a Black American who had been detained. The police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd as he was lying on the ground for minutes, leaving him to suffocate. Neither Floyd gasping “I can't breathe,” nor the reaction of the people around him could stop the police officer.

Floyd was one of millions of people who lost their jobs due to the epidemic.

One of the most striking statements about Floyd's death came from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. In a tweet, Blasio said, “I’ve seen the video. I am horrified. George Floyd was murdered in broad daylight and the man who killed him was a police officer — and that officer didn't seem to care at all that he was taking a man's life. If George was white, he would be alive right now.” These words revealed that White supremacist racism has spread among police officers like a virus.

Floyd was not the first. On March 13, a 26-year-old Black American woman, Breonna Taylor, was shot dead in the middle of the night with eight bullets in her home by three white police officers in the city of Louisville.

The police had entered the house on the grounds of a drug search, however no drugs were found at her home. Moreover, Taylor was a woman working in the healthcare industry and applauded for her work in the fight against the epidemic.

Black Americans are protesting these murders with the slogan "Black Lives Matter." Floyd uttering "I can't breathe" before he took his last breath became the slogan of the new wave of protests. Blacks, Hispanics and other anti-racist Americans have been on the streets for days shouting the slogan, "We can't breathe."

Former U.S. President Barack Obama called for a "new normal" for millions of Americans, emphasizing that the exposure to racial discrimination has become normalized.

To summarize, the epidemic exacerbated the huge inequality gap in the United States. Meanwhile, white supremacist racism continues to be the cause for the disproportionate deaths of Black Americans in the Covid-19 epidemic.

  • George Floyd
  • coronavirus
  • racism
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