The COVID-19 pandemic has got the entire world by the collar, and the “world’s most powerful nation,” the United States of America, is no exception. In fact, the US is by far the worst-hit country which is being completely ravaged by the virus. 1.09 million Americans have so far been infected, and the death toll has mounted to a whopping 63,000 with the black neighbourhoods most affected.
The African-American community is disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Across states in the US, although the data might vary, however, the trend is similar. People of colour are being infected at extremely high rates when compared to their white peers. In New York alone, blacks are dying at twice the rate when compared to whites. Vox.com reported that:
- In Wisconsin, black people represent 6 percent of the population and nearly 40 percent of Covid-19 fatalities.
- In Louisiana, black people make up 32 percent of the state’s population but almost 60 percent of fatalities.
- In Kansas, 6 percent of the population is black and yet black people account for more than 30 percent of the Covid-19 deaths.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of nearly 1,500 hospitalizations across 14 states of USA found that black people made up a third of the hospitalizations, despite accounting for 18 percent of the population in the areas studied. These trends hold true across states. When compared to the population of black people, their hospitalization and consequent death rates are disproportionately high. A similar study by the Associated Press found that black people contributed a staggering 42 percent of the total victims in the states studied.
The CDCP analysis further showed that black people constituted one third of the total infections in the US although they represent a mere 13 percent of the population. Similarly, blacks constituted one-third of the total deaths in the country, the Associated Press study showed.
In all states, although the black population statistics should dictate that not many of them be infected with the virus, the opposite is happening. Despite them being a minority in most states, the infection rates among them is the highest, affecting large swathes of black population.
The reasons behind such abnormally high infection and death rates among the black population of USA are aplenty.
First, black populations are highly concentrated in small areas in the United States, much like ghettos. As such, the possibility of a disease like COVID-19 spreading like wildfire among the dense populations increases manifold. The large swathes of African-American population are economically weaker, which means that their neighbourhoods are not generally as heavenly as US residential areas are made to look like in the movies. Lack of proper hygiene in such areas could be a possible reason as to why many are being infected due to the virus.
The black people are usually employed to do menial jobs in the US, which includes working as grade IV staff. For them, the luxury of working-from-home in such unprecedented times of a pandemic, is a distant dream. A study by The Guardian found that black people are much more likely to be employed in the essential services sector in times of a pandemic, depriving them of the luxury of staying at home and keeping themselves insulated from the virus. As such, they are much more likely to be exposed to the disease and carry it back home, infecting their families as well.
Poverty is a fundamentally important aspect to explain the abnormal infection rates among the African-American community in the United States. The quality of living, as such, takes a hit, therefore making it easier for the disease to penetrate such populations. As a direct result of poverty, most black people are uninsured for healthcare and medical services, and they simply cannot afford a grand treatment for themselves.
We would be absolutely ignorant to not consider discrimination and inherent racism in American society as multiplicative factors responsible for the spread of the disease unabated in large African-American populaces of the country. Even if racism is not directly affecting the treatment being meted out to the black people in these times of a pandemic (which is highly unlikely), the fact that such people have been discriminated against historically, forced into ghettos, treated as second class citizens and deprived of equal treatment is a fundamental reason why many of them still languish in poverty. The black population of the US is further riddled with obesity, hypertension and diabetes, only making things all the more worse for them with a COVID-19 infection.
Read: Coronavirus and its American allies: Great freedoms, widespread stupidity, lack of experience and first-world arrogance
While America is considered a heaven for human life, where the lives of people are given paramount importance, such bare facts of a certain section of their society being left to fend for themselves reeks of callousness and indifference, not to mention a historical prejudice meted out to them. Wasn’t human life thought to be given maximum importance in the US? An analysis of the value of human life in America will now reveal that the same is turning out to be pretty cheap.
White House had stated on record that it expected no less than two lakh deaths in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It said so as if this was no big deal, and that the two lakh people who were supposed to die were dispensable commodities.
Read: 200000 Americans could die of Coronavirus: What the USA will do to China once the worst is over
The truth is that the United States of America is in a complete mess. They have not been able to enforce a stringent nationwide lockdown, the results of which are clearly visible. The economy has trumped the lives of people in Donald Trump’s reign. Further, there is almost a war brewing between the federal and state governments of the country, with the White House even blocking the delivery of PPE’s to states. The States of the United Stated are all fending for themselves, with close to no help being provided to them by the Trump administration, particularly states were the Democrats were chosen over Republicans.
Such is the pathetic state of affairs in the United States, that American citizens, who were all set to return to their country have only recently decided to stay back in India. India has emerged as a model nation of how the pandemic ought to be handled, and US citizens stranded here are well aware of the same.
Read: ‘Hit body with UV-light, inject disinfectant,’ Donald Trump’s COVID-19 cure throws USA into a panic
Redundant congressional committees who not even Congressmen in the US take seriously must learn to tame their minds and not comment on India’s lack of plurality and supposed “religious intolerance” when their own country is facing a crisis like never before, and failing miserably while at it. Will the USCIRF speak up on the abnormal death and infection rates of black people in the US, or will it turn a blind eye to their miseries and continue to sermonize India on frivolous notions which it thinks are under attack here in India?
Black lives are turning out to be very cheap in America. As such, the USA will be well advised to sort its own house first, before it even dares speak on issues above its league.
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