By Lorrie C. Reed, Ph.D.
It is my fervent prayer that something will be found soon to control COVID-19 and stem the spread of the current pandemic. Most of us will be at ease, no doubt, after the pandemic has subsided. Unfortunately, some groups will remain vulnerable to other tenacious killers that continue to show themselves strong in our communities of color.
The persistent killer I’m talking about disproportionately compromises the lives of millions of the poorest members of our society each year. This killer shows up in the form of a complex consisting of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and related maladies that shorten the lives and diminish the well-being of Black and Brown populations.
Such diseases proliferate because of discrimination against individuals based on race or gender. This includes the restriction of opportunities for employment, living conditions, nutrition, healthcare, and other manifestations of systemic racism. If it remains unchecked, the disease can lead to death.
Finding a cure for such racism has been an ongoing battle involving those who value fairness, compassion, and justice for all people. Perhaps justice makers should begin to tackle this ubiquitous presence in the same way public agencies have addressed the recently pernicious virus – one person at a time, one policy at a time, and one practice at a time until the malady known as systemic racism is wiped off the planet for good.
When our society decides finally to become aggressive in this fight, the well-being of affected people will rise, and we will all be able to go outside once again without wearing our social masks for protection.