I watched the evening news on April 28th, 2020. Of course the news was all about the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The news anchor recounted the story of a 30 year old black woman who went to the hospital on two occasions because she was feeling sick, and was twice denied the test for the coronavirus. She died. The story was extremely brief. In fact, if you had looked away from the screen for a moment, you might have missed it.
Moments later, the news anchor reported on another story, this time about a family of four who had been tested for the coronavirus and were all doing well. And that was a good thing. Footage showed the white family looking healthy and happy. And because members of the family had tested positive for the virus, it was decided to test the family pet as well. The result was positive. The first dog in America to test positive for the virus.
A continuation of this same story aired the next morning on another TV show. The focus was on protecting our furry pets from becoming infected with the coronavirus. Watching the story, I further learned that Duke University administered the test to the pets as part of a study it had been conducting. In all, three pets were tested. The family’s two dogs and one cat.
Each story had its own merit, but here’s the thing. African-Americans, People of Color, and People living in poverty are dying of Covid-19 complications at incredibly disproportionate rates. By now we all know why.
But here you have these two stories airing one after the other, and apparently no one at the television newsroom thought of the insensitivity, or the incongruity of reporting on the death of a young black woman, who most likely died due to late diagnosis because she was not given the test for the coronavirus in time, juxtaposed against the story of a white family of 4 and their 3 pets all having received the test.
This seemingly small but significant oversight speaks volumes and is frustrating and disheartening, to say the least. These everyday slights reveal a certain view, conscious or not, that a black life is not as highly valued as a white life or even that of a furry family pet.
Rana Zoe Mangin was a beloved daughter and sister. A 2011 Wellesley College Graduate (Psychology), and University of Massachusetts Graduate (MFA). A cherished educator and role model, she taught social studies at Bushwick Ascend Middle School in New York. A beautiful human being and loved by many, she died at 12:25 pm on April 27, 2020. Cause of death, complications due to Covid-19.
This deadly Pandemic has reminded me of the crucial need for us, as black people, to become stronger, healthier, and more financially successful and independent so that we are in a better position to take control over what happens to us.
That means doing more for ourselves by ourselves and not counting on anyone to come to our rescue. Because when it comes to a crisis, it is painfully obvious that we the Black People, People of Color, and People living in poverty are the last to get access to quality healthcare and that includes testing, treatment and positive outcomes.
If or when a vaccine is developed and available, you can add it to the list of treatment that Black people, People of Color and People living in poverty will not have equal access to.
In spite of its ideals, America is an inherently racist country. But it’s not only America. The devaluation and disrespect of Black lives is a global disease.
Like the Coronavirus Pandemic.