the long-standing systemic issues that put minority populations at risk.
“While the rest of the population has been fortunate enough to stay home during the pandemic, these individuals make up a large percentage of the population that are considered essential workers,” she says. “These ‘targeted populations’ are the grocery store workers, bus drivers and hospital cleaners who are forced to be in public, which places them more at risk. These individuals have the added risk of living in apartments and other high-density populations, so they have an increased risk of exposure at work and at home.”
Racial health disparities are not a new concept isolated to COVID-19, says Hilton. And neither are the protests for Black Lives Matter, which she says echo the protests of the Civil Rights Movement. Throughout history, the systematic racism of black and brown communities has deepened the vulnerability of these communities in more ways than one.
“I call it the intersectionality of pandemic and protest. What we know is that for every 2,000 black persons who were alive in January, 1 has died from COVID-19. What we also know is for black men in particular, their lifetime risk of dying during a police encounter is 1 in every 1,000,” says Hilton. “These two statistics should strike fear into any American, but they definitely give black people pause and are the reasons why many would risk exposure to COVID-19 in order to participate in a protest that says, ‘Enough is Enough’.”
Communities of color want these issues to be acknowledged, says Hilton, and to see the country work toward addressing them.