That took her longer than usual. She must be slipping. The coronavirus pandemic has been in the headlines for a couple months and only now is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez getting around to demanding reparations for minorities who contract the virus.
What are the grounds for demand this time? “COVID deaths,” she claims in a tweet, “are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities.”
COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities.
Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions.
Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.
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— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 3, 2020
For starters, is it true? Ibram X. Kendi, director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, lamented a mere two days ago the paucity of data “on whether the virus is having a disproportionate impact on some communities.” What little data he did have at his disposal, from the Illinois Department of Public Health, showed that blacks in that state were indeed overrepresented among coronavirus infections.
Hispanics, however, were not. In fact, their rate of infection —they comprise 17.4% of the state population and account for only 7% of the cases — was among the lowest of any demographic. Whites, in contrast, make up 76.9% of the state population and account for 39% of the confirmed cases.
But putting aside entirely the rate of infection by skin color, the simple truth is that COVID-19 is colorblind. If you are a member of a high-risk group or engage in high-risk behaviors, your chances of becoming sick are greater.
Ocasio-Cortez’s metaphorical word play aside, inequality is decidedly not a comorbidity. Nor are redlining and environmental racism, whatever that is, factors in who gets ill.