The escalating COVID-19 pandemic impacts all of us, but for Black and brown people in particular, the combined health and economic devastation is truly terrifying. Communities of color have higher rates of asthma, less access to health care centers, are more likely to live in food deserts, and are among the most vulnerable in the face of this virus. The workers most on edge in our economy—and most likely to lose their jobs—are predominantly Black and brown. Most Americans lack even $400 of savings to call upon in times of crisis, and that lack of wealth is even more pronounced for Black and brown communities.
Crises reveal deeper realities of power and inequity that have always been present but are often papered over in ordinary times. The conflagration of economic crisis and ailing communities may have been sparked by the novel coronavirus, but the kindling for this fire has been laid by conservatives and liberals alike with the policy choices of the past 40 years. This is not just a pandemic crisis; it is a crisis rooted in our very system of racial capitalism and in the oligarchic inequities of American politics.
K. Sabeel Rahman is the president of Dëmos, a “think and do” tank that supports the movement towards a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy.