When White People Catch a Cold… Inequity and National Crisis

By Community Legal Services, | June 22, 2020

Former Emerging Leader Fellow Kee Tobar authored a blog post for Community Legal Services examining how People of Color, and LGBTQ People of Color in particular, have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic downturn, and the current social unrest in response to law enforcement misconduct and violence.

We are living during unprecedented times in our country. However, each individual crisis taken independently is not uncommon. Social unrest due to the oppression of People of Color and Black people especially, is not uncommon. We can point to the Civil War; the summer of 1919 race riots in Washington D.C.; Knoxville, TN; Longview, Texas; Phillips County, Arkansas; Omaha, Nebraska; and Chicago, Illinois; the Civil Rights Movement of the 50’s and 60’s, and recently the Oakland, Ferguson, and Baltimore riots, as examples of our nation’s history with race- based social unrest. The underlying racial tension and potential explosion due to racial oppression is as American as Apple pie.

While COVID-19 is one of the deadliest pandemics known to man and has killed nearly 120,000 Americans, it is also not the first deadly epidemic in our country’s history. We have dealt with Cholera, Diphtheria, Polio, and the deadly HIV & AIDS pandemic. National economic downturns are cyclical. Many of us can name major downturns during our own lives. For example, the Great Depression, the Dot Com bubble burst of the early 2000’s, and recently the Great Recession. However, it is the combination of these great disasters that is unprecedented.

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