To my Patients and Friends,
COVID-19 cases continue to drop in Connecticut (good news) but continue to rise across the rest of the country (not so good). In light of recent events, I’m using this forum to present some other important data related to COVID-19 and other health issues, along with some personal thoughts.
The injustice of racial disparities in the age of COVID
The CDC have outlined a number of racial disparities as related to the impact of coronavirus on different communities. Black and Latino communities suffer disproportionately. Reports demonstrate that black Americans die of COVID-19 at three times the rate of whites. This is not a function of the color of their skin. It is a function of their circumstances- their lack of access to quality healthcare, their lack of access to safe living environments, to mental health services, to comprehensive healthcare insurance, to clean air and water, to high-quality education, to affordable unprocessed foods and to financial security. And when coronavirus struck, while we watched it strike hardest in these communities, they were last in line for the precious resources and education that those in more affluent communities were afforded at the outset.
The injustice of other racial health disparities
- People of color lose earnings from cancer deaths at a higher rate than whites
- Blacks die as a result of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infant mortality, homocide and suicide at a greater rate than whites
- According to a recent study by the NIH, research grants are awarded at a lower rate when the principal investigators of a study are black
- and on and on
And while doctors wage a critical fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the onus is also on us to recognize and confront these unjust health disparities.
To the black community and especially to the black people in my life, some of whom I love like family- and to a particular dear friend, whose father was a legendary civil rights leader in the 1960s and was arrested and jailed numerous times for participating in demonstrations (and who was so very kind and loving to us until the very end): I speak for my entire family in acknowledging and regretting our silence, naivete and inaction. We have fretted and wrung our hands from within the safety of our bubble of white privilege. That’s never been enough, and it ends now.
I cannot ask my black and brown brethren to educate me; they have tried for decades, and at this pivotal moment in time, they have enough on their plates. I will educate myself. And while I actively pursue this critical learning process, I’ll throw my support behind those who have spent their lives on the front lines, studying and confronting and living with racism every day. Now is the time for action. I will revise my summer reading list and will start learning and engaging and will end my silence. I will support black-owned businesses. I will march. I will stay present. I will shed light on racist words and actions as I encounter them. And starting now, I will donate 1% of my profits to Black Lives Matter.
We can expect a vaccine against COVID-19 in the foreseeable future; tragically, a cure for the pandemic of racial inequality is far more elusive.
That’s all for now. Be safe, be patient, be optimistic, be kind and be part of the solution! I hope you have a nice weekend, and I’ll see you soon.
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