The crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is exposing the harsh reality of America's racial, health, and economic disparities. In cities across the United States — from New York and Los Angeles, to Detroit and New Orleans — black Americans are dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, at disproportionately higher rates than their white counterparts.
A combination of environmental, economic, structural, and political factors — fueled by decades-old housing policies, educational inequities, poverty, and structural racism — are often cited the main reasons behind the racial gap in COVID-19 deaths.
Politicians, lawmakers, and activists alike are pleading with the federal government for race-inclusive data in testing. But is that enough? What other policy recommendations should be considered? And, will this pandemic and the outcry over the disproportionate death rate be a catalyst for real structural change — or will it serve to only reinforce existing hierarchies?
A sociologist and Rubenstein Fellow at The Brookings Institution, Dr. Ray researches the mechanisms that manufacture and maintain racial and social inequality. His work also speaks to ways that inequality may be attenuated through racial uplift activism and social policy.
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