Unequal in the Time of the Unprecedented

By: Allen Harder

Heading into our seventh month of life under the the novel coronavirus, we have witnessed dramatic changes within our society on social media. From the recession to the millions of infected people around the world, we are experiencing a time of turmoil and loss of leadership within our country. This virus has revealed our many flaws, such as the disproportionate amount of minorities facing financial difficulties, as these people work in service jobs, rather than positions of power, and are more likely to contract and die from COVID-19, partially because they face inequities in our health system. 

We are facing a dilemma in which certain groups of people are being blatantly discriminated against. There is resistance to people of color and ethnic groups that have done everything in their power to fight for their rights. In fact, they are fighting for their lives in a time of turmoil. Police have killed 164 black men and women from Jan. 1 to Aug. 31, 2020. Racial discrimination can even impact health outcomes. The coronavirus has reflected these inequities, as Black men and women are 2.1 times more likely to die from complications, and they are 4.7 times more likely to be hospitalized, partially due to the fact that they are exposed 2.6 times more to the virus than white men and women. 

This is a systemic issue that no other nation faces to this extent. These inequities, for instance, can be seen through jobs. As there are huge wealth, income, and educational gaps between races. This can ultimately lead to lower high school completion rates and lower acceptance rates in college, thus leading minorities and poorer families to inevitably get worse positions in the work environment. These workers have limited job options, less flexibility, and their jobs tend to be less stable. Minorities like this are now more likely to be exposed to the novel coronavirus. However, that is not the only problem that we have faced. 

Climate change has been lingering in the midst of the pandemic and slowly scraping away at minorities and poorer families. This dilemma can be found in the midst of our very own neighborhoods. Redlining, the term coined by sociologist John McKnight, is the literal division of people based on the demographics of that specific area. A racist practice in which the separation of African Americans is further encouraged. It is self evident to all that it is still a form of segregation and unjustified discrimination. Places in which poorer, minority communities live are more likely to be exposed to pollutants such as smoke, dust and emissions from cars, factories and power plants. 

These people are often the same people being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. We need to understand how these socio-cultural factors can affect minorities. Whether it be the examples mentioned above, jobs, redlining, etc, the problem is finding that unique balance to save our country from a virus, racial discrimination and other formidable future threats. No one in this world gets what they want, and that is fair, yet we can conform our situation to our advantage. These advantages come as your friends, family, media and your voice. So speak your truth and stand for what is not only good, but morally right.