Coronavirus and racism — we keep chasing the hammer that struck us, but never the hand behind it

How can Black, Brown and poor people live long lives in communities not designed for people to live long?

us surgeon general jerome adams coronavirus
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams. “Big Mama”?

I saw this “fight COVID-19 now” vs. “Medicare for all” video on Roland Martin’s Twitter feed (be sure to watch the video):

Which explains why I can’t be a politician: every policy question has to be another “Either you’re with us or against us” moment.

Or a try-this-silver-bullet proposal, known to me for the moment as the Drop-Yo-likka-and-Save-Big-Mama, presented by US Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

No flavor mixing, apparently. Fox-and-hedgehog blends of fighting injustice appear stupid through eyes of the most fired up commentators who want to win débat du jour while death’s overhang cuts off Black communities’ options for survival.

Let’s deal with the first video. Common sense will tell all but the truest of fanatics that Medicare for All ain’t gonna save us from Rona today.

But M4A will plug a decades-long healthcare coverage gap that exists between communities of color and White people, as well as allow for stronger neighborhood resources for the future should — may the heavens forbid — another virus attacks America.

But simply addressing healthcare coverage won’t solve the fundamental problems within Black communities.

The Adams video is just as misguided as the fight-Rona-now and M4A debate, although he made an interesting reference to “equality”. I’ll address that in a future post.

I’ll repeat myself and suggest we talk about how Black, Brown and poor neighborhoods are designed like Third World encampments.

Or work colonies for the rich.

And our narrative focus should include how a collection of government policies and straight-out racism are sending these colonial residents to early graves.

Death can be confusing in America’s domestic colonies, causing its subjects to see death arrive through either quick and violent methods, or slower but equally deteriorating approaches that also wipe out future hopes.

Saying “Third World” isn’t hyperbole when there’s a public housing project in NYC that doesn’t have running water DURING A PANDEMIC, where water access is critical for preventive hygiene. The Ebola outbreak worsened in Africa because of the lack of running water in many communities.

Plus, running water outages have happened before in NYC public housing. This would NEVER happen in richer neighborhoods.

NYC public housing families, most of whom are poor, have lost their heat or running hot water on several occasions before the pandemic.

Let’s build on this example to make a broader point.

Job prospects never look encouraging for the poor, thanks to biases in school funding, academic support and training. For these residents, tutoring is not an affordable option, and an arguably a laughable one.

Welfare recipients are mandated to fulfill work requirements where the low-skilled duties performed provide rapidly-diminishing marketplace value to future employers, and training for the future economy is nonexistent.

The targeted over-policing of Black public school students leads to the school-to-prison pipeline, where childhoods are destroyed by arresting six-year olds for having temper tantrums.

Even if the kids grow up to earn education credentials, their income potential and careers will be subjected to workplace biases, where hiring managers are so trifling that they throw away resumes with Black-sounding names. Once in the workplace, people of color will experience more racism in the form of suppressed compensation and promotions.

The lack of wealth makes applying for home loans a joke to bankers, assuming the bankers aren’t busting out in full John-Birch mode and rejecting loan requests because of skin color.

Black, Brown and other poor people don’t receive the financial support to open businesses in their neighborhoods, further suppressing the wealth potential of communities.

Homes are nestled near toxic-emitting factories, and low-income residents are forced to live with those industrial health risks.

With no money to pay taxes and living in any part of the country where property taxes fund public services, take a guess at who will receive a lower-priority treatment … ?

For-profit doctors have no financial motivation to locate their practices in colonies.

Poverty leads to despair, which can lead to excessive consumption of alcohol. Or drugs. Or cigarettes. And then death follows.

High poverty rates within the colonies can lead to crime, and despite research that confirms how employing youths can save their own lives and communities — current community policies leave young people of color poor and with an abundance of time to break laws.

Poor families can be so food-insecure that the children drink soda for breakfast. Or nothing at all.

The lack of food education, stores that sell healthy foods, and money can lead to additional unhealthy food choices. In many cases, the result is premature death by diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Poor senior citizens have no safe spaces to walk and exercise, while children lack access to parks.

There is a lack of community support structures that families can leverage to fill gaps in knowledge, skills and resources.

And there is mass incarceration.

Police violence.

The money bail racket.

This piece can go on for pages, but let me stop here — you get the idea?

How can anyone live a long life in a community that’s not designed for people to live long?

Meanwhile, we continue to chase hammers, never connecting them to root causes.

And for decades, your smiling elected officials haven’t done much to transform these colonies beyond gentrifying them, bringing in more affluent families, and then displace the natives to another colony — which is just another staging area for the next exodus. Each politician’s pen stroke to “fix” a community problem seems to result in the extension of a temporary lifeline, a proposal with harmful strings attached, a project that seems to be a backdoor payoff to a contractor friend, an unbalanced one-dimensional approach that creates additional problems, or an outright sham.

Here’s an example of a huge sham: a proposal that will allow banks to fulfill federally-ordered community outreach requirements by investing in sports arenas located in poor neighborhoods.

Yes, that’s a true story.

This is why I’ll continue to call out reactive commentary about the latest inequity hammer that destroys lives and makes headlines.

Sure, we need to address the present threat.

But when will we address redesigning communities forged for decades by racism and greed … ?

song currently stuck in my head: “fever” – robert glasper experiment feat. hindi zarha

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