It Will Take Years for People of Color to Recover From the Covid-19 Fallout
The pandemic lays bare structural inequities that need fixing across all aspect of American society
Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum was “the type of kid that would brighten your day,” her cousin, Dejeon Cain, told a local news outlet in Florida. “She loved her mom, dad, grandma, uncles, and aunties.” Kimmie, who was nine years old, died last month of Covid-19, following a sudden spiking fever. Her family did not know she had the disease until it was too late, Cain said.
Kimmie is one of an alarming number of people of color whose lives have been upended or cut short by the coronavirus. Black people are nearly three times more likely than whites to contract Covid-19 and more than twice as likely to die from the disease, according to a report published last week from the National Urban League.
Beyond those raw statistics, people of color are suffering grossly disproportionate health and economic consequences from the Covid-19 pandemic — impacts that could take years to recover from. But for recovery to happen, the pandemic must serve as a wake-up call to the deep social and racial inequities that have left Black people, in particular, more vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic and less able to bounce back from this or any health or economic crisis.
Nobody thinks it’ll be easy.
“For generations, communities of color have faced vast disparities in education, in job opportunities, in income, in inherited family wealth, and in health care,” said Michelle Williams, dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The Covid-19 crisis has laid bare these issues.”
With widespread Black Lives Matter protests playing out in the background, Williams and other public health experts are now contemplating the piled-on problems of the pandemic amid a time of great hope, and greater-than-ever need, for positive social upheaval. It’s all tied together, they say.