I want my Chicago Public Schools students to understand how racism manifests itself in systems of every day life. If we don't teach our students to see race, we're not teaching them 21st century literacy skills.
These days, report after report shares one truth: black and brown communities are being hit harder by Covid-19. Most of this, reports say, can be attributed to poor underlying health conditions in low-income communities of color. People from the Latinx community have 17% chance of developing type 2 diabetes, for example, than non-Hispanic whites who have an 8% chance, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some of these cause may be attributed to individual or cultural circumstances. However, we cannot ignore the systems that perpetuate and exacerbate inequalities.
In New York, "the five ZIP codes with the highest rates of positive tests for the coronavirus have an average per capita income of $26,708, while residents in the five with the lowest rates had an average income of $118,166," according to analysis by the Intercept. "The death rate from Covid-19 for black and Latino New Yorkers," the article highlights, "is roughly twice that of white New Yorkers."
On April 7, in a White House news conference, Dr. Fauci, the country's leading immunologist, commented on the racial health disparity: "I couldn't help sitting there reflecting on how sometimes when you're in the middle of a crisis, like we are now with the coronavirus, it really does have, ultimately, shine a very bright light on some of the real weaknesses and foibles in our society."
In addition to the Intercept article linked above, here are a few sources students can engage with to gain insights into how race and racism contribute to health inequalities in our country:
From MSNBC: "How Systemic Inequality Leads to More People of Color Dying from Coronavirus"--a video interview with a doctor who discusses the reasons behind the disproportionate COVID-19 deaths happening among people of color in America.
From the New York Times: "College Made Them Feel Equal. The Virus Exposed How Unequal Their Lives Are"--a profile of low-income college students struggling to balance school and family.
From ProPublica Illinois: “'Essential' Factory Workers Are Afraid to Go to Work and Can’t Afford to Stay Home"--an article about employees who face unsafe working conditions.
From the 1619 Project: "How the Bad Blood Started"--a podcast about how Black Americans were denied access to doctors and hospitals for decades and how they pushed to create the nation’s first federal health care programs.
From Latino USA: "The Clinic"--a podcast about CommunityHealth, the largest free health clinic in the country, serving only people without insurance, many of whom are undocumented. Latino USA followed up with the clinic's director in a recent episode.
From the Pew Research Center: "Hispanics more likely than Americans overall to see coronavirus as a major threat to health and finances"--and article full of data images explaining harmful effects on this community.
From the New York Times: "Why Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories Flourish. And Why It Matters"--an opinion piece to help students understand why people accept and distribute faulty information.
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