Marginalized groups have always faced oppression, but it is highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a rise in anti-Asian racism, and black, LatinX, and indigenous communities are infected at a much higher rate. Although the forms of oppression are different between racial groups, it is important to build racial solidarity because equity will not be reached until all groups are free from oppression.
Increasing Attention On Anti-Asian Racism
There has been an increase in anti-Asian racism, with over 1,700 cases since March. Incidents like violent attacks and racist graffiti have been reported. Asian businesses suffered from boycotts, leading to many closing down. Resultingly, in New York, there was a 10,210% increase in Asian Americans filing for unemployment. This has many people questioning the model minority myth, which portrays Asian Americans as hardworking and successful. Focusing on the success stories leads to blaming other minorities for living in poverty due to their “poor character”. Thus, the model minority myth is a political tool used to pit minorities against each other. As the myth perpetuates, it increases the tension between racial groups, which makes it harder to stand in solidarity. However, with more education and awareness, communities can come to more understanding.
Black And Latinx Community Disproportionately Impacted
In San Francisco, the LatinX community makes up most of the patients in critical condition due to COVID-19. In New York City, black and LatinX people are dying at twice the rate of White people. These patterns across the U.S. are due to multiple factors. One of the components is that many are essential workers, with “Nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic and Black or African American workers … in [the] service industry,” according to the CDC. Many people also do not have paid sick leave, which would discourage workers from staying home if they feel sick. This would put essential workers at a higher risk of being infected. Another factor contributing to the vulnerability of black and LatinX communities are poor living conditions. Many people do not have the privilege to socially distance themselves living in small apartments. Furthermore, many neighborhoods in poverty lack access to healthy foods, which leaves people with bad health conditions. This, combined with poor healthcare, leads to more vulnerability to COVID-19 and higher deaths.
The Impact On Indigenous Communities
Infection rates are not only high within black and LatinX communities, but also within tribes. As of Memorial Day, the Navajo Nation had 2,680 cases per 100,000 people compared to New York with 1,890. Communities are struggling with overcrowding and under-resourced hospitals, and much of this is due to the government not complying with treaties promising healthcare, housing, and more. Because of this, tribes lack adequate funding for resources during the pandemic. These patterns are similar to those of Black and Latinx communities who lack access to resources in communities of poverty.
The Importance Of Coalition Building
This is not an extensive list of racial groups oppressed, but the inequities highlighted during the pandemic emphasizes the importance of coalition building. Institutional inequities like poor health care and inadequate funding are showing through the high death rates of minority communities. Although what different communities are fighting for may be different, ultimately, everyone would benefit. Communities can advocate for the Essential Worker Bill of Rights, which would ensure essential workers would have paid sick leave, safety protection, and more. This bill would not only benefit essential workers, but everyone in the community because fewer people would be infected. Furthermore, more data on these racial inequities need to be collected and released, so the government can be held accountable and take action. Racial groups should be supporting each other and raising awareness of the work other groups are doing. It is more important than ever to work together to end inequities and save lives.