Higher rates of infection and death among minorities demonstrate the racial character of inequality in America.
We know that Covid-19 is killing African-Americans at greater rates than any other group. You can see this most clearly in the South. In Louisiana, blacks account for 70 percent of the deaths but 33 percent of the population. In Alabama, they account for 44 percent of the deaths and 26 percent of the population. South Carolina and Georgia have yet to release information on death disparities, but in both states blacks are more likely to be infected than whites. The pattern exists in the North as well, where African-American populations in cities like Chicago and Milwaukee have high infection and death rates.
Federal officials have tied these disparities to individual behavior — the surgeon general of the United States, Jerome Adams, who is African-American, urged blacks and other communities of color to “avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs” as if this was a particular problem for those groups. In truth, black susceptibility to infection and death in the coronavirus pandemic has everything to do with the racial character of inequality in the United States.
To give just a few, relevant examples, black Americans are more likely to work in service sector jobs, least likely to own a car and least likely to own their homes. They are therefore more likely to be in close contact with other people, from the ways they travel to the kinds of work they do to the conditions in which they live.
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