DO BLACK LIVE MATTER AMID COVID-19 PANDEMIC?

David Y Firang
International Journal of Community Development and Management Studies  •  Volume 4 (2020)  •  pp. 067-093

This article aims at exploring how systemic racism predisposes Canadian Blacks to COVID 19 infection, thereby raising the question as to whether Black Live Matters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although many discourses about Blacks' vulnerability abound in the public media and academic literature, their vulnerabilities seem to have been overlooked amid the current COVID-19 global health crisis. Since COVID-19 was detected public health authorities deem older people, children, Indigenous people, and low-income Canadian families and those with weakened immune systems from underlying medical conditions as vulnerable to the pandemic. One group of people conspicuously missing from the vulnerable groups’ list is Black people. Drawing on evidence-based data from secondary sources, the article demonstrates that the gravities of the COVID-19 pandemic are deepening racial inequalities in Canada. The article also illustrates how many Black people and other racialized groups are at increased risk of COVID 19 infections and deaths due to a longstanding health inequality.

This study relies on evidence-based data drawn from various secondary sources, including academic papers, policy briefs, government reports, credible media sources, press notes and advisories, current newspapers, and online media reportage of the unfolding health crisis about COVID-19 to demonstrate that the gravities of the COVID-19 pandemic are deepening racial inequalities in Canada. Although research that articulates existing studies on Black people and the COVID-19 pandemic is very scanty, this paper is mostly exploratory as it emphasizes synthesizing secondary sources of literature review.

The study finds that many Black people and other racialized groups are at increased risk of COVID 19 infections and deaths due to a longstanding health inequality. Further, the paper demonstrates that, historically, social determinants of health have prevented Black people from equal access to economic, social and healthcare opportunities. And thus, have exposed a longstanding systemic racism in employment, housing, education, and healthcare. Finally, the paper recommends two innovative strategies to achieve social transformation: 1) Black Canadians should shift from vulnerability to recognizing their vitalities/resiliencies and 2) building allyships with other oppressed groups to stop the spread of the two pandemics: anti-black racism and COVID-19.

This paper does not only contribute to our knowledge about the challenges Black people experience during the pandemic, but also enhances our understanding about the innovative strategy to defeat anti-black racism. This strategy implies that the time has come for Black Canadians to move beyond their vulnerabilities to discover their vitality and agency – moving from the discourse of victim hood to resilience, agency, vitality and creativity

COVID-19, Black Canadians, Black Live Matters, Anti-Black Racism, Racism
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