Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by BVN
S.E. Williams |
Maybe it’s the laisse faire transitioning of this nation and state from a mindset of “pandemic to endemic” regarding COVID-19 while data says the COVID-19 related deaths of Black people in this state has increased tenfold since last July due in part to low vaccination rates begs the question: Are we as Black people, being complicit in our own genocide?
As a race of people already disadvantaged to disparate access to health care and other economic disadvantages that left Blacks more vulnerable to the virus, a campaign of dis- and misinformation layered atop historic and warranted mistrust of the medical industry has resulted in many Blacks playing a game of “Russian Roulette” with their lives and the lives of their loved ones. As COVID-19 death rates decline for most—recently they have increased for Blacks.
Most concerning however is that we are failing our children as well. Black children in California are the second most likely to die from the virus among Californians younger than the age of 18.
When that is considered in the context of Black children having the lowest vaccination rates of any ethnic or racial group—it should raise a red flag in the Black community. Only 12% of Black children under five years of age have received the vaccine and only 44% of Black youth between the ages of 12 and 17 have received the vaccine compared to 24% and 66% respectively of all young people in these age groups.
It certainly does not take much imagination to see what lies ahead as mask mandates melt away and indoor restrictions vanish. The truth is for the Black community COVID-19 is still an imminent threat and the state, though saying all the right things about equity and maintaining focus on how the virus continues to impact vulnerable groups has forged ahead in relaxing guardrails despite the continuing risks to Blacks and others.
I understand why many are reluctant to trust their children to the vaccine but it is difficult to make sense of after having struggled more than 400 hundred years to keep our children alive in this nation and it is difficult to get beyond the barrier of hesitancy in this regard. But to date, more than 10.7 billion doses of the vaccine have been administered worldwide and it has proven to be safe, effective, and proven to reduce risks for severe COVID-19 illness.
And so now the nation is moving on even as Blacks continue to die disproportionately from the virus and COVID-19 vaccination rates in the Black community remain low.
As Governor Gavin Newsom and President Joe Biden and others made their announcements of COVID-19 transitions recently even as Blacks are dying at higher rates, we have to ask in relation to the theory of “acceptable loss” whether we are once again the “price” the nation is willing to “pay” in order to safeguard the ‘economy and individuals’ workplaces and social existence?” I’m just posing a question.
Black lives have always been offered as sacrifice to sustain this nation’s economy and our ancestors and those who supported them, have time and again throughout history pushed back in a continuous fight for survival.
In Toni Morrison’s seminal work Beloved, she forced us to look at the choice faced by one of its main characters, Sethe. “Should she kill her children or allow them to possibly live a terrible life as slaves?” We don’t have to make such horrible choices today. But, as we continue to navigate our way through the ‘Age of COVID-19’ many Blacks continue to struggle over the decision of whether to vaccinate their children or risk them getting COVID-19; and then weighing if they don’t get them vaccinated and the child gets COVID-19, whether they will survive a bout with the virus; and if they take this risk, what about the unknown, long-term consequences of the disease that are yet to be determined?
Meanwhile, the data show a “yes” to the COVID-19 vaccine has proven to be a safe and more prudent risk.
Many times throughout history Blacks were forced to step out on faith in order to survive but regarding COVID-19, in addition to faith– we have science.
The numbers speak for themselves relative to the impact COVID-19 is having on the unvaccinated and its impact on the Black community remains painfully apparent. Meanwhile, as noted above, both President Biden, Governor Newsom and others have made a clear decision—the economy is moving on.
Obviously, they have pledged to continue support and focus on vaccinating vulnerable communities, however the economy will no longer be held back waiting for vaccination rates to increase—remember the theory of acceptable loss.
Black pastors in the inland region and elsewhere are doing their part as they have throughout history to be leaders on the issue of COVID-19 vaccines. They are working to educate the community, participating in the vaccination process and in all ways, leading by example. But like any successful movement that has sustained the Black community across generations, the onus is on all of us to dispel mis- and disinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
The battle for Black Lives extends beyond the fight for criminal justice reform and today one of the most pressing calls to action must be to encourage our community to help save Black Lives by getting vaccinated.
If you have not already done so, I encourage you to get vaccinated and vaccinate your children. Follow this link to make an appointment for a free vaccination. If you have loved ones who are hesitant about the vaccine, here is a link to some of the most frequently asked questions shared by the Black Faith Community. These questions have been vetted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Inform yourself so when there is an opportunity to correct dis- or misinformation, you are equipped to offer an informed response.