Creating a toxic storm of death and illness, the coronavirus pandemic is devastating black peoples across the United States and revealing a deadly weakness.
In September 1945, legendary blues artist Blind Willie Johnson died in the burned-out remains of his Texas home. At the time of his death, he was broke and local hospitals refused to admit him for treatment of malaria. Although Mr. Johnson was born with his sight, according to reports he had been dowsed in the face with lye at age seven during a domestic dispute evolving in father and stepmother.
Coronavirus Killing So Many Black People
When I heard Dr. Sandro Galea tell this story, he ended with a penetrating question. What killed Blind Willie Johnson? Did Mr. John die at age 40 without access to healthcare because he was blind, a victim of domestic violence, poor, black, or suffering from malaria (An easily treatable illness at the time).
The story of Mr. Johnson reminds us that we must consider the social and historical context when discussing the status of groups of people in a society – this is especially true for African Americans. The fact that most Black people living in American today are only a hand-full of generations away from slavery makes many critics and even some black people uncomfortable.
Nonetheless, if we take the great American scholar W.E.B Du Bois (the first black man to graduate from Harvard University) as an example; we see that he grew up in a fatherless home and was raised in relative poverty. The most striking thing about his story is that, although he died in 1963, he was only three generations out of slavery.
So, what does all of this have to do with the coronavirus pandemic? As you may have heard recently, African Americans on average and in many areas of the country are 3 to 6 times more likely to suffer from COVID-19 and die as a result. There have been countless theories as to why this is happing, but most miss the crucial issue, which is a comprised immune system. Worst of all, no one is talking about how to properly address the problem.
Yes, we have all the socio-economic challenges that the experts are pointing to for all the reasons mentioned above. However, why in 2020 are we so vulnerable? Here are the simple answers and solutions.
- Black people in American are more like to have more underlining health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, and obesity.
- These underline “lifestyle diseases” are connected to and indicative of chronic inflammation. They are directly linked to a compromised immune system.
- When it comes to viral infections like the coronavirus the most important defense is a strong immune system.
- When it comes to maintaining a healthy immune system a nutrient-rich diet is one of the most important lifestyle factors followed by rest and stress management.
- Evidence shows that, for many of the historical reasons above, African Americans collectively have the poorest eating habits of any group in America. This fact is documented and illuminated in the 2018 book “Fast Food Genocide: How Processed Food is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It” by Joel Fuhrman and Rob Phillips (This is a must-read for every black person and concerned citizens).
I am not denying that there are larger social factors at play when it comes to the enormous disparities in black health outcomes. However, the 2020 pandemic did not create these disparities; it is merely shining a brighter light on them. The good news that we don’t have to wait for the food industry, government, or the healthcare industry to fix this problem. Moreover, we need not waste our precious time lamenting over history that we cannot change. Starting today we can take steps to address the lifestyle habits that put us at risk. Simply put, we don’t get to decide our history, but we can choose our future.
What Do You Think?
Why are so many black people dying? What can be done about it?