The COVID-19 pandemic has fully illuminated the effect that decades of ingrained, systemic racism has had on the black community. The pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on black people on the economic front, in the severity of the virus’s symptoms, and in the racial disparity of its treatment. In Pittsburgh, an effort is underway to address that disparity.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Allegheny County, Pa. has passed a motion 12-3 to label racism a public health crisis. The motion was drafted in light of a 2019 report that revealed that Pittsburgh has the worst quality of life for black people than in any other comparable city. In Pittsburgh, the rate of infant mortality among black children is 94 percent higher than the other cities in the study. Research also found that black men face higher rates of cancer diagnoses and cardiovascular disease.
From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Black women’s poverty in Pittsburgh is higher than in 85% of other comparable cities; more black children grow up in poverty here than in 85% of other cities, according to the report.
Inequality based on race and gender follows kids throughout their school years, the report shows. Using middle school algebra as an indicator, overall Pittsburgh’s students are less likely to be enrolled, but the gap is pronounced for the city’s girls.
And when it comes to discipline in schools, “Pittsburgh refers more black girls to the police than 99% of similar cities,” the report states.
“This is not just a black issue; this is a humanity issue as we heard in the many statements that came before [the meeting],” said Councilwoman Olivia Bennett, (D-Northview Heights). Bennett is the prime sponsor of the measure. The move comes a year after Milwaukee County in Wisconsin became one of the first to declare racism a public health crisis.
As evidenced by the three votes against it, not everyone was on board with this effort.
“I do have a problem with the language. It seems that they’re calling out whites as a collective and claiming that whites are responsible for this ... racial classification scheme and things like that. And I’m sorry, that language, I just can’t support it. To the folks on the right, we believe that white privilege is something that’s just something created by the left to try to create division.” Sam DeMarco, the Republican at-large member of the council, said.
The “facts don’t care about your feelings,” crowd really hate when the facts disagree with how they feel. You hate to see it.