The Coronavirus Pandemic has hit the world harder than if Mike Tyson were to punch a child! I know this analogy sounds a little strong but I couldn’t think of a better example to express how hard the world has been hit by this deadly virus. COVID-19 has not only killed and continues to kill thousands around the world daily. It has also had a devastating effect on small businesses and much needed human services. It has tremendously altered the way we socialize and interact with each other as well as, the way we live and move. Quite frankly, the world has been discombobulated and terrorized by this global health crisis. Health officials and leaders on every continent and in every society are struggling to get this virus under control and to mitigate any further destruction.  

While all people regardless of race and ethnicity, education, income, gender, age, sexual preference or profession are vulnerable to the virus, leading health officials have found that African Americans are “getting slammed”; said Dr. Richard Besser, Former Acting Director of the CDC and now President and CEO of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on April 23, 2020, CNN interview. Dr. Besser went on to say “data from states and cities around the country tell us that Black Americans and Latinos are dying at twice the rate they should be by population.”  

These devastating racial disparities can be explained in part by the Social Determinants of Health, the notion that where people live to determine their health outcomes. The World Health Organization (WHO) established the Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) in March 2005 to ‘support countries and global health partners in addressing the social factors leading to ill health and health inequities.’ Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan in a 2008 report to WHO said in part: “it is factors in the social environment that determine access to health services and influence lifestyle choices in the first place.” In short, the report found in its research that inequity and inequality with all of their implications are the reason why black and brown people are the primary victims of all forms of health maladies and viruses like COVID-19. 

For more information about CSDH go to 

As an example, it is not a coincidence that black and brown people tend to live in areas that significantly exposes them to air pollution (causing asthma, sever raspatory infections, other lung diseases, and cancer), due to the large numbers of noxious manufacturing facilities emitting air pollution and the hazardous waste sites that are located where black and brown people live. Also, black and brown people live in areas that put them at high risk of lead poisoning (which can cause anemia and poor brain development in children), little to no access to clean drinking water and healthy food options, large numbers of vacant and boarded housing and little access to needed health facilities, etc…

To make matters worse, during this present Coronavirus Pandemic black and brown people make up the majority of “essential” (necessary) workers – garbage pick-up, grocery store cashiers and delivery drivers, hospital custodians and cafeteria workers, public transit workers, in-home caregivers, nursing assistants, correctional facility workers, security guards, pharmacy technicians, front desk staff at health facilities, package delivery handlers and field workers, police officers and paramedics, etc… – who have never stopped working and in some cases working tremendously long hours since the virus hit, risking their own lives to save lives and to make sure Americans have food on their table. 

When I stop to think about how this pandemic has vividly shown the existence of these long-standing disparities and how once again black and brown lives are being sacrificed to save America. It is clear as it has always been that structural racism, a feature of global white supremacy is the root cause of debilitating disparities. Racist public policies and practices perpetuate racial and cultural inequality. These inequalities are by design and unfairly privileges whiteness and disadvantages blackness. Yet, there has been no direct, long-term, and consistent effort by any of the major political parties (GOP or DFL) to dismantle this pernicious reality. 

Don’t get me wrong, attempts have been made to dismantle this reality but they have been neutralized and depleted by forces that still see black and brown people as second-class citizens. As an example, white women (not black people) were the primary beneficiary of Affirmative Action (an executive order signed by President Kennedy in 1961) 

White supremacy is a false ideology. However, it is woven into the social, economic, and political fabric of America and it must be acknowledged and eradicated. Until then, these inequities will continue, and natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, man-made disasters like the Flint Water Crisis, other sicknesses, disease, and viruses like CORVID-19 will continue to take black and brown lives at higher rates than white lives. These facts are true and are not in dispute.

So, what should we as black people do? 

To get us through the COVID-19 Pandemic: I strongly urge that we abide by the CDC’s order on social distancing and to keep from spreading the Coronavirus – stay 6 feet apart – and don’t congregate. Please stay at home if it is not a necessity to go out. However, if we must go out, we should wear gloves and a mask that covers our mouth and nose. -I understand that we are social people and like the company of family and friends-. We should wash our hands often for at least 20 seconds. Don’t touch our face. Since we seem to have a target on our chest for this virus, due to the above-mentioned reasons, we can ill-afford to take chances.

Now, moving forward even after the COVID-19 Pandemic is over, for our continued existence and to fortify us through whatever challenges we face, we must be committed to always educating ourselves and our children about the history and culture of black people. I’m speaking to those of us that didn’t migrate to America voluntarily but African people who are the descendants of African slaves living in America. We have a uniquely rich history to be proud of. So much so other cultures have tried to appropriate it as their own. We must teach ourselves about our history of continued struggle and how we have managed to overcome in the face of insurmountable odds.

John Henrick Clark once said, “slavery and colonialism strained, but did not completely break, the cultural umbilical cord between the Africans in Africa and those who, by forced migration, now live in what is called the western world.”  

We must continue to be the strong black people we are by falling back on the virtues our people possess that help foster resilience when we have been through and still catch hell: 

· We are a spiritual people: Most black people are not atheist but believe in a God, Allah, Yahweh, Jehovah, etc… Or we believe in a higher power, spirit or force bigger than ourselves of which we can call on to get us through the vicissitudes and nuances of life. We may not belong to a church or mosque or are not a member of organized religion (Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Evangelical, etc.…) but we believe deep within ourselves that there is a force that transcends the physical world we live in. “Spirituality” or the “church” have always played a central role in our capacity to overcome any obstacle.   

· We are inherently a social and communal people: We believe in the collective and are all about the “we” and “us” and “ours” and the family. We believe in looking out for each other and that what affects one affects us all. We place a high value on family and friendship. Not only are blood relatives important to us but we also have “extended” family members – friends that are close to us and have been around so long that we call them family. Also, our church/mosque/synagogue family which provide the care and support when we need it. Also, associations like being a member of a social club, group, or sports team are extremely important to us and can serve as another outlet or layer of support when we need it.  

We like other people are not perfect by any mean and we certainly are not a monolith but the above-mentioned qualities are what has fortified us and has helped us through the Structural Racism Pandemic. 

James Trice