COVID-19 and the response mitigation strategies are disproportionately impacting our minority communities. Those of us who find ourselves inconvenienced only by the grocery store being out of bread, the lack of televised sports, and being forced to wear a mask (the privileged) should take notice of those among us teetering on the brink of homelessness. Unfortunately, due to the racial divide in America most of those victims are people of color. We need to talk about it.
The poverty rate among African Americans and Hispanic Americans is at least twice as high white Americans. That gap can increase to a startling level depending on location. Additionally, the CDC data suggests that minority groups have a disproportionately higher rate of illness and death.
With such heartbreaking statistics as a foundation, we can begin to paint a picture of what life is like for the often-ignored poor in America.
A single mother who must now find childcare for her children who are out of school. An hourly worker who wants to stay safe but relies on public transportation where close proximity is unavoidable must put himself at risk. The undocumented immigrant, who will receive no stimulus check, is afraid to seek medical attention and is far from family. A poverty-stricken household struggles to put food on the table, let alone maintain access to high-speed internet so children can attend class. These are their stories.
This virus is doing a lot, but most importantly it is highlighting and magnifying serious issues in America today. Minority communities are less likely to house grocery stores that sell fresh healthy food. Black Americans are more than twice as likely to have conditions like diabetes which amplify COVID-19’s risks. These are problems that we must see, and we must respond to. It’s time we stop ignoring our Black and Hispanic communities.
Our society is already unequal. COVID-19 is just one more opportunity for us to not only see it, but talk about it, and fix it.
More and more families are turning to their local trustee offices for assistance with utility bills and rent. Although many companies are allowing for late payments, they are not forgiving payments. This means a deeper financial hole for struggling families. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty and crime that plunges our minority communities into a deeper state of despair.
Now that we are aware of the heartbreaking racial disparity during this already uncertain time, may we not turn a blind eye. Let us not just pass on the other side of the road as the priest and Levite. Lord, grant us the divine conviction that we may give up our own comfort and resource in the face of need and be a Samaritan, a neighbor, a racially aware Christ follower.