Not long ago, so many blacks were convinced blacks that melanin made them immune from coronavirus that media felt compelled to convince them they weren’t. Now, blacks are getting the disease and dying from it at higher rates than whites.
- Blacks are 32 percent of Chicago’s population but 67 percent of the city’s coronavirus deaths.
- Blacks are 26 percent of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin’s population but 72 percent of its deaths.
- Blacks are 14 percent of Michigan’s population but 41 percent of the state’s deaths.
- Blacks are 32 percent of Louisiana’s population but 70 percent of the state’s deaths.
(Much as the media love to cite the last two figures, they exaggerate the effect on blacks. Most of Michigan’s deaths are in 80-percent-black Detroit. Likewise, Louisiana’s deaths are concentrated in 60-percent-black New Orleans.)
Nationally, blacks are 32 percent of the deaths nationally (they are 12.3 percent of the total population), Asians are 5 percent (5.6 percent of the population), Hispanics are 14 percent (18.3 percent of the population), and whites are 46 percent (60 percent of the population). Blacks are also 33 percent of those who have been hospitalized with the virus, Asians are 5.5 percent, Hispanics are 8 percent, and whites are 45 percent.
Blacks are therefore overrepresented in the patient population, Asians are in proportion, while whites and Hispanics — remarkably so in the case of deaths — are underrepresented.
Why are black rates so high? Bernie Sanders blamed “systemic racism.” His campaign co-chair Nina Turner said it was a “myth” that coronavirus was an “equal opportunity killer.” “It is unacceptable that Black America is getting sick and dying at much higher rates,” she tweeted.
Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes believes “the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions” that make non-whites more susceptible to coronavirus. “Inequality is a comorbidity,” she says. She argues that any coronavirus relief plan should begin with reparations in mind.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights said coronavirus is a “racial justice issue.” Al-Jazeera said the disproportionate death toll “exposes how systemic racism and inequality put minority groups at risk.” “Hundreds of years of racism has delivered poor health and economic outcomes for black people,” said Vox, “making them more vulnerable in the pandemic.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren agrees: “Decades of structural racism have prevented so many Black and Brown families from accessing quality health care, affordable housing, and financial security, and the coronavirus crisis is blowing these disparities wide open.”
A press release from the senator’s office warned that part of the problem is that some “people of color” avoid medical treatment because of “a history of discrimination.” The New York Times said blacks cite the Tuskegee syphilis study as an example of medical racism.
The Times, like most media, assumed the study was immoral, but it was not. The men who were “untreated” were in the latent stages of syphilis, which means they were not infectious and had practically no symptoms. When penicillin was discovered as an effective treatment, it would not have helped these men. The study was conducted by progressive scientists with the full support of black medical authorities.
Could anything other than “racism” cause high black disease and death rates? Several conditions — all more common in blacks — are known to make people vulnerable to the virus. Blacks are 60 percent more likely to have diabetes than whites, for example, and are three times more likely to die from asthma. Forty-three percent of black men have high blood pressure (24 percent of white men), as do 40 percent of black women (18 percent of white women). Blacks also develop hypertension at an earlier age.
About half of black adults are obese, the highest percentage of any group (45 percent of Hispanics, 42 percent of whites, and only 17 percent of Asians). Of blacks aged 20 years or older, 63 percent of men and 77 percent of women are overweight or obese. Jean-François Delfraissy, France’s chief epidemiologist, says America “will probably have the most problems [with coronavirus] because of obesity.”
Blacks are more exposed to the disease through work and where they live. Just under 20 percent of blacks say they can work from home, while nearly 30 percent of whites say they can. Blacks are also more likely to have service-sector jobs than whites — 24.2 percent versus 16.2 percent — which makes it hard to stay away from people. Blacks also are more likely to live in cities and counties with the most cases.
Black attitudes towards authority differ from those of whites. For example, 78 percent of whites say they would definitely report a crime to the police; only 54 percent of blacks (and 57 percent of Hispanics) would. Sixty-eight percent of whites have a favorable view of the police but only 40 percent of blacks (and 59 percent of Hispanics) do.
This suggests that blacks would be more likely than other groups to ignore medical advice or quarantine rules. There are no hard data on this, but this appears to be the case. In late March, Chicago police broke up two large house parties in black neighborhoods. Just last weekend an estimated 400 people were at a party in an apartment complex. Police learned of it only because four black men fired nearly 100 rounds, hitting six people. In Baltimore, police found out about a party of blacks only because an intruder shot the host.
Black fears over racial profiling have convinced many that it is dangerous to wear face coverings, because whites will assume they are robbers and shoot them on sight. This is surely a ridiculous assumption, but going without a mask makes it more likely the virus will spread — including to blacks.
Yes, blacks are more at risk of dying from coronavirus, but it is willful ignorance to blame “racism.” Furthermore, how do low disease and death rates for Hispanics fit into the “racism” explanation. Hispanics are poor, often do not speak good English, and are consistently less likely to have medical insurance than blacks. If a white supremacist system is giving blacks the disease, how is it sparing Hispanics?
The current frenzy about black Covid-19 death rates is just one more racial disparity flung in our faces as proof of “racism.”