Research shows racial inequality negatively affects COVID-19 treatment for Black communities

Seniors+Taylor+Sims%2C+Amari+Lynch%2C+Jennifer+Guilbeaux%2C+and+Jenelle+Guilbeaux+attend+a+Black+Businesses+Matter+event+in+August+during+National+Black+Business+month.

Taylor Sims

Seniors Taylor Sims, Amari Lynch, Jennifer Guilbeaux, and Jenelle Guilbeaux attend a Black Businesses Matter event in August during National Black Business month.

Zoey Pudenz, Managing Editor

According to the New York Times, people in Black and Latino communities are 3 times as likely to contract the Coronavirus than those in white communities. Despite these statistics, these communities continue to struggle to get the proper resources they need to handle the virus.

“I think it’s very scary to know that possibly healthcare workers could be treating their patients of color differently,” said senior Taylor Sims. “It makes me not just concerned for me but people in my family who have been specifically affected by the coronavirus.”

According to the Washington Post, some of the first coronavirus testing sites went up in predominantly white areas. Black people in Louisiana make up for 70% of the coronavirus deaths despite being only one-third of the population. 

“I think that a lot of my peers don’t realize that they have that privilege to not worry about those types of things,” Sims said.

Racial segregation in America continued after the ratifying of the 13th amendment due to redlining. Redlining is defined as the systematic denial of various services by federal government agencies, local governments as well as the private sector either directly or through the selective raising of prices.

“There is a lot of deep-rooted history with redlining here in Kansas City,” said senior Jennifer Obiesie. “For example, if a Black person were to move to a wealthy white neighborhood the property value of the homes around them would go down, and those white people would leave. And, then more Black people would come in and the city would pay less attention to those roads and that creates impoverished neighborhoods and so on.” 

One action is followed by hundreds of other actions. Due to redlining black people typically attend poorly funded schools which results in a poor education which then stems to lower-paying jobs. 

“That affects us to where food sources are located, especially now with COVID-19 as there is a lot of food insecurity for a lot of families, not just those of color,” Obiesie said. “In one of these impoverished areas where redlining is taking place, a lot of these Black families are surrounded by what they see which is fast food. They don’t really have the opportunity to have grocery stores and fresh markets. I’m lucky enough to live close to a Walmart instead of having to drive 25 minutes to find the nearest supermarket.”

Lower paying jobs result in less healthcare and employee benefits which feeds to exposure of diseases including coronavirus. 

According to the Scientific American, places like Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Michigan, and Kansas, the death rate is four to six times higher for those of the black community.

Not only does racism play into the Black community’s physical health, but their mental and emotional health as well.

“With the Black community, sometimes mental health is not taken seriously at all,” said sophomore Jillian Collier. “For our white students, and students of other races, the things that bother them, and the things they have conversations about is not brushed under the rug like it is with our Black students.”

I think it’s very scary to know that possibly healthcare workers could be treating their patients of color differently,”

— Taylor Sims

According to Childrensmn.org, the nation’s recent events have affected everyone, but primarily Black teens. COVID-19 not only brought isolation but the Black community has been dying at a disproportionate rate due to the virus and police brutality. 

“We’ll hear ‘you’re just being dramatic or over exaggerating things like that,’” Collier said. “I feel like it is just a norm for Black people’s pain, emotions, and mental state to not be taken as seriously as whites.”

According to the associate clinical director of psychological services, at Children’s Minnesota St. Paul Hospital, Dr. Sarah Jerstad, kids of color have faced long barriers to mental health care in areas of prevention, access to care, quality treatment, and mental health outcomes. COVID-19 has only increased this burden.

“This stems back to slavery because just like with Black women in the health care system, we were viewed as animals, we were bred like animals,” Obiesie said. “So, they always were just thinking about how to make the strongest Black child and mental health was never really thought about in regards to Black people. In the Black community, I feel like there is a stigma around mental health issues. Yes, we know they exist, but I feel like due to our history and slavery, we kind of just brush it under the rug, even as Black people.”

During quarantine, Obiesie started to become a promoter for small businesses, including those owned by Black owners. It became a way to support them during this difficult time as small business owners struggled to make ends meet.

“I work with a wide range of businesses from beauty to fashion,” Obiesie said. “I am really passionate about it because if someone never has a chance to try, then how can you expect them to know what to do. I feel like a lot of people overlook Black businesses even though they have more quality in their customer service. You’re supporting someone’s dream and when I support a small business, I feel like I am giving back to the Black community.”

According to Sims, other ways to support the Black community include signing petitions and using social media platforms to spark those uncomfortable conversations.

“Most importantly, if you see someone say something ignorant or insensitive, do not be a bystander,” Sims said. “If you know it’s wrong, attempt to educate them at that moment. I think if we don’t allow our friends and peers to get away with saying things that could hurt a community, we would be much more educated.”