WHAT'S GOING ON?
MICHIGAN BLACK CAUSUS CORNER
April 23, 2020
There's too many of you
Brother, brother, brother
There's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today, eh eh
Marvin Gaye (1971)
"What's Going On"
Once again, Marvin Gaye's soulful words resonate through the heart of Black America.
Our survival depends on each of us staying home and staying safe. COVID-19, also known as
the novel Coronavirus, is spreading through communities across the country and taking the lives of cherished family members and friends. This highly contagious and deadly disease has changed our way of life - shutting down businesses, schools, religious institutions, and entertainment venues. The entire world, regardless of nationality, race, or creed, has come to an abrupt halt.
Today, scientists are trying to develop a vaccination and it is unclear if a cure is near. But one
thing is clear - African Americans are being hit hardest by this disease. Nationwide data shows
that African Americans are more likely to die from the Coronavirus than Caucasian Americans.
The significant disparity in African American COVID-19 related deaths not only requires that we assess whether we are all practicing safe social habits, but also demands that we address systematic socioeconomic inequality, lack of access to affordable health care and preventative health services, and whether we are being proactive in understanding our family medical histories.
The staggering amount of African American deaths due to COVID-19 is heartbreaking.
As of April 9 th , the Associated Press reported that African Americans accounted for
approximately 42 percent of COVID-19 related deaths: a significant number considering that
African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the United States population. In Michigan,
African Americans make up around 40 percent of the coronavirus deaths but count for 14 percent of the population. Other states such as Mississippi and Louisiana have reported similar trends, with African Americans accounting for over 65 percent of known COVID-19 related deaths.
Regardless of geography, the disparity in outcomes gives us a compelling reason to think that
someone has failed to do their job.
Contrary to mistruths that have been floating around on social media, African Americans
are not genetically more or less predisposed to get COVID-19. According to the Center for
Disease Control (CDC), the novel coronavirus spreads by close person-to-person contact in respiratory droplets through talking or touching a surface or object, such as a gas pump or door handle, which has the virus on it and then touching our mouth, nose, or eyes. The virus is colorless and odorless, and some people can transmit the virus without even knowing or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such a cough or fever. We are all susceptible to either falling ill to this disease or transmitting the virus to others. Therefore, we must stop holding large gatherings that contribute to the spread in our community. Moreover, practicing social distancing (at least 6 ft apart), washing our hands with soap and water, wearing a face covering or mask, disinfecting surfaces, and staying home are additional ways to combat this deadly disease; our lives depend on it!
Contrary to President Donald Trump's rhetoric, countries around the world are
witnessing how America is far from "GREAT." Specifically, the African American community,
which has been historically disadvantaged and oppressed for over 400 years, continues to suffer the effects of economic inequality, inadequate access to affordable healthcare, and a lack of access to resources for preventative health services and proper nutrition. In practical terms, these systemic problems contribute to the increasing number of Africans American deaths. The danger is clear, these socioeconomic issues are not novel, and its effects must no longer be tolerated.
The COVID – 19 pandemic demands that we create a more equitable environment for all
Americans, and especially for the disadvantaged in the African American community. After we
overcome this horrific pandemic, action must be taken.
To turn the corner, we must:
increase the number of economic empowerment centers offering one-on-one financial
counseling services related to personal finance, best business practices, and wealth
educate our family and friends, in schools, churches and community centers, on essential preventative health measures such as regularly visiting our primary doctor, practicing proper nutrition, and engaging in regular exercise;
increase dialogue related to our respective family health history as to know whether we
are genetically predisposed to common health disorders such as heart disease, diabetes,
high blood pressure, asthma, certain cancers, and other diseases;
develop neighborhood-specific community plans for sharing basic needs such as food,
clothing, and transportation during times of crisis;
encourage our family, friends, and community members to exercise their civic duty to
vote and educate one another on the social policies effecting our community;
lastly, getting back to loving one another by supporting the best interests of the African
American community even if it means temporarily disregarding our views, goals, and personal aspirations.
The African American community is extremely resilient, and we will get through this pandemic.
We are not looking for any favors but rather are building a stronger sense of community. To that
end, the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus (MDPBC) is working toward: creating
pathways to capital so that we can own our own business, local grocery stores, and pharmacies;
advocating for social policies that specifically address historical gaps in generational wealth,
education, healthcare, urban development, etc; and encouraging and educating our people to live
healthier lives by practicing proper nutrition and exercise.
If anything, COVID-19 has shown everyone that there are needs in our communities which must
be addressed. Therefore, we are encouraging all of you to #LEAD as we navigate during this
uncertain time. We need all hands-on deck because it's time for us to save a black life! Until we
meet again, may the Lord bless you and protect; may the Lord smile on you and be gracious to
you; may the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.
For more information, please visit our website at http://www.mdpbc.org and our Facebook Page.
Dorian Tyus, Esq. is a spokesperson for the MDP Black Caucus. He is a radio and television commentator who writes often about politics, culture, religion and vulnerable communities.