- The narrative that mass protests are dangerous and are likely to propagate the spread of the novel coronavirus seems to have disappeared.
- A popular online media outlet, points to an explicit link between white supremacy and public health.
- Making a case for institutional racism in the nation’s police force based on one or a handful of incidents seems gratuitous.
While only a few weeks ago the media and public health officials recoiled in horror and disgust at the notion of protesters taking to the streets in response to what they felt were issues of governmental overstep and abuse of power, these entities have now thrown their overwhelming support behind the far more unstable and violent protests in regards to the wrongful death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
The narrative that mass protests are dangerous and are likely to propagate the spread of the novel coronavirus seems to have disappeared, and has been wholly replaced by one advocating for violent demonstrations against institutional white supremacy and the systemic disenfranchisement of African Americans.
Public health experts warned about the inherent dangers of in person voting, but stated, in an open letter, that “protests against systemic racism, which fosters the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on black communities and also perpetuates police violence, must be supported.”
This letter, which champions the idea that systemic racism is the defining force behind the disparity of COVID-19 cases in predominantly black and white neighborhoods, was signed by over 1,000 epidemiologists, doctors, social workers, medical students, and other health experts.
Slate, a popular online media outlet, points to an explicit link between white supremacy and public health and the open letter released by public health experts points to the disproportional number of African Americans killed by police as attempts to justify the violent and chaotic riots erupting across the nation.
Neither entity makes reference to the many socioeconomic concerns that may play a part in the ostensibly disproportional rate of police killings and coronavirus infection rates among the African American population.
African Americans also account for a disproportionately higher number of crimes, leading to a higher rate of interactions with police and subsequently a higher rate of police killings.
While racism is a persisting issue in our society, it important to note the many other contributing factors when examining racially charged issues. This not only helps to provide a fuller and clearer picture of the issue, but assists in formulating a comprehensive solution to the root causes of the issue.
When speaking to NPR, Nsoesie, a signatory of the letter written by public health officials, claimed that “Racism is a social determinant of health.” The letter expressed a similar sentiment, stating, “White supremacy is a lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19,”
Racism may indeed play a part in police brutality and inequality in healthcare, however, referring to it as “a lethal public health issue” seems not only unjustified, but reeks of sensationalism and self-righteousness.
Similarly making a case for institutional racism in the nation’s police force based on one or a handful of incidents seems gratuitous.
Injustice should be rectified when prevalent, and that is what the protests over George Floyd’s death seemingly started out doing.
Drawing attention to injustice is noble and should be praised. However exclaiming support for riots, violence, and looting, especially after disparaging protests over government encroachment, as health officials and media outlets have done, is sensationalist, partisan, and is in no way to the benefit of the nation.