Continuing the Fight for Social Justice and Racial Equality During COVID-19

As 2021 begins, it is essential to reflect on the last year of general unrest in the United States. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the increased fight for racial equality, it’s been an intense year for the nation. For example, the unjust murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor prompted many people to wonder how they could help support the Black Lives Matter movement. As time has passed and the U.S. nears the one year mark of the March shutdown, much of the public’s attention has drifted from continuing the work towards racial equality. This trend is understandable, given the immense political turmoil of the past few months. Now that the election is done and there is officially a new president in office, we must refocus on addressing the global pandemic and the systemic inequalities in our country. 

Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic is claiming countless American lives. While people of all backgrounds are being affected, many of those dying from covid are people of color. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  lists a few possible reasons for this, including “Discrimination,” “Healthcare access and utilization,” “Occupation, educational, income, and wealth gaps,” as well as “Housing.” The CDC has outlined that the United States’ systems of oppression have continued to harm people of color at greater rates than white people during the pandemic, which means that the effects of these racist systems have led people of color to be disproportionately affected by the deadly virus. Simply, the numbers don’t lie. According to an in-depth study from the American Public Media Research lab, “Black and Indigenous Americans continue to suffer the highest rates of loss—with both groups now experiencing a COVID-19 death toll exceeding 1 in 750 nationally”. 

With information like this readily available, it becomes difficult to understand why so many Americans are still ignoring the COVID-19 guidelines. I have found it quite challenging to see so many of my peers and fellow college students continuing to throw large parties as this virus rages. This trend becomes even more confusing when these same people continue to advocate for social equality. In my opinion, you can not truly call yourself a proponent of racial equality if you are continuing to ignore the CDC guidelines during a pandemic that disproportionately affects people of color. So, to those who ask what they can do, I beg of you to consider the impact of your decisions beyond your own needs. Simple choices such as not attending large gatherings and keeping your mask on around people that don’t live in your residence may help save lives. If you want to help the fight towards racial equality for all Americans, please consider practicing social distancing and mask-wearing until a vaccine is widely available.