The ancient adage, “When America catches a cold, Black people get the flu” applies to the current pandemic. Let’s start with the statistics. CNN Health reported on May 9, “Black Americans represent 13.4% of the U.S. population…but counties with higher Black populations account for more than half of all COVID-19 cases and almost 60% of the deaths.
In Minnesota, where health disparities were already criminal, Kris Ehresmann, MDH infectious disease director, told MinnPost in late April that “African American residents made up 13% of the known cases of COVID-19 at the time. But Blacks only make up roughly 7% of the population in Minnesota. “Certainly we’re seeing an incidence rate … in our Black population that’s higher than what we’re seeing in our White population,” he said.
That is the good news.
While there is a desperate effort to develop a vaccine for this deadly affliction, you and I need to be wary of what is in the needle, especially one carried by Dr. Jean-Paul Mira, chief of intensive care at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, France. In early April, he told French National Institute of Health and Medical Research director Camille Locht on French television channel LCI, “Shouldn’t we be doing this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?”
Can you say Tuskegee Experiment? The experiment for which African Americans were used by the United States Public Health Service as lab rats to research venereal disease is still a part of the collective subconscious of Black people in this country. Had Mira not been busted, who knows how many men, women and children might have died under the microscope.
And had it stayed under wraps long enough for President Trump to institute tests in the U.S., suffice it to say, that prospect is enough to keep one awake nights.
It is a soul-shuddering reality that Black humanity is to this day so devalued. It should be unthinkable. Terrifyingly, it’s not. If there was any time for Black health professionals to step in and lend a hand, that time is now. And they need to be financed by all those multi-millions that sports and entertainment idols have made off Black hands laying down greenbacks at the ticket office.
Period, end of story.