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As early regional and national data on race becomes available, it is devastatingly clear that Black, Latinx, and Native communities are being hit the hardest by this pandemic. People of color are more likely to be working in jobs deemed essential, and therefore are at much greater risk of exposure to COVID-19. Health inequities, seen in conditions such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes, asthma, lack of access to quality health care, and underemployment are all factors that increase COVID-19 complications in patients of color. 

Let’s be clear: Coronavirus kills, and structural racism is its accomplice.

While some are able to shelter in place and work remotely, many workers of color have no choice. We call on federal and state governments to release race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 testing, patients and health outcomes. This data should inform how we invest our time, our resources, and our energy. Ending the coronavirus threat requires us to start by attending to those who are most impacted.

Yet, shockingly, this administration blames people of color for their own deaths. The U.S. Surgeon General suggested that patients of color are personally responsible, urging Black and Brown communities to “avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.” They, along with Republican lawmakers, have fomented anti-Asian violence by calling COVID-19 “the Chinese virus.” These explicitly racist calls—they go far beyond “dog whistle” politics—show that they are more skilled in attacking people of color than in attacking the virus. Their rhetoric is meant to deflect criticism of their deadly and disastrous failures, not to end the global threat of COVID-19. 

What we know is that the best science supports a racial equity approach, and that a racial equity approach advances the fight against coronavirus. Ending the threat requires us to target our strategies and resources towards those who are most impacted by this pandemic, those least able to social distance or shelter in place, those facing the worst health inequities, those whom the administration and other demagogues would abandon and endanger. Instead of blaming and stigmatizing those who are most at risk of contracting COVID-19, Race Forward demands that we center their needs, and attack the disease with the urgency the moment demands. Structural racism is the pre-existing condition. Ending the threat of the virus means attacking structural racism. Want to learn more? Join our Race and Pandemics Webinar.

Check out our latest below!


Race Forward in the Media 

Our team members address immediate impacts of COVID-19

Glenn Harris, President of Race Forward, recently spoke to the Seattle Times about the importance of data in addressing COVID-19. He discussed how Race Forward’s Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) worked with Milwaukee County to create its health and racial equity framework, which placed an emphasis on the importance of public data about race. GARE Director Gordon Goodwin recently spoke with ProPublica about why Black people are systemically at a higher risk of infection during the Coronavirus pandemic. The story highlights how African Americans gravitated to jobs viewed as reliable paths to the middle class — health care, transportation, government, food supply — which are now deemed “essential.” Those very jobs now mean those people are unable to stay home. “This is a matter of taking a look at how our history kept people from actually being fully included,” Gordon says

Race Forward’s Philanthropy Project Director Michele Kumi Baer recently authored an op-ed titled “Funding in the Time of COVID-19: Questions to Deepen Racial Equity”. In the piece, Michele lays out several important questions for funders and philanthropic organizations to consider in this moment of crisis to avoid potential harmful actions towards affected communities of color. Some of these questions include: “Is your response race-silent or is it race-explicit? and “are you assuming that "responsive" means "first-come, first-served"? Read Michele Kumi Baer's list of questions that funders should be asking, and share it with a friend on Facebook.


Colorlines Coverage on COVID-19

Race-explicit coverage on the Coronavirus pandemic 

During the ongoing national emergency, the Colorlines team is committed to providing race-explicit daily coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to lifting up resources for communities of color. Subscribe to Colorlines’ weekly newsletter to receive our most up to date Coronavirus reporting

Here are three recommended readings: 

Check out Colorlines’ additional COVID-19  coverage: 

Staff Picks

Credit: Consequence of Sound

During these trying times, it's important to share the small things that keep us going. In this edition, we hear from Colorlines Editorial Assistant, Tracey Onyenacho

“I’ve been listening to Hozier’s album “Wasteland, Baby!”. The album has deep and sensitive lyrics splashed against harsh and edgy sounds that suggest that even though it may seem like the world is ending around us, there's always a sweetness and strength to hold onto. It shows up in the moment where, as Hozier sings, "the harder the rain, the sweeter the sun." 

What are you listening to, watching, reading and learning? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook.

In solidarity,

Team Race Forward




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