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COVID-19: A Spotlight on Systemic Racism

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Tracey McKee – January 13, 2021

2022 has arrived, and sadly, it arrived on the heels of Omicron, Covid-19’s newest variant. This latest strain of the virus was first detected in the US on November 22nd, and since then, we’ve watched as it has wreaked havoc across the nation and threatened the strides made toward our “returning to normal.” While we are all tired and weary from fighting this airborne predator, not all of us have endured the same battle with Covid. Covid has presented a much more daunting struggle for people of color. 

Since March 2020, when the country began shutting down to stop the virus’s progression amongst our population, Covid has shown a glaring light on inequities in our country: healthcare disparities, workplace inequities, lack of digital access, etc.

These disparities, and others, have made people of color especially vulnerable to the virus and hard-pressed to observe recommendations like social distancing and work from home practices. Socio-economic factors certainly play a part, but if you take a closer look, a history of racist practices and policies have resulted in creating many of these inequities, including:

  • broken promises to Indigenous Americans for health care and education services from the Federal government,
  • housing practices and policies that have corralled Black Americans into densely populated, urban areas and environmentally dangerous areas, 
  • overlooking the needs of Asian Americans who do not fit the “Model Immigrant” stereotype, and so on.

Covid-19 has highlighted how explicit and implicit biases have created systems in our country that have marginalized people of color. It has shown that systemic racism is not only formidable; systemic racism has the power to be deadly.

USA Today produced a series in October 2020 that examined how Covid-19 has affected people of color across the nation. It is a worthwhile read for those of us who may not be as familiar with systemic racism. While it certainly is not comprehensive coverage of policies and practices that leave people of color at a disadvantage, it does, I believe, provide food for thought and a case for needed change for those who have been marginalized. Click the USA Today News image to check it out.

Happy New Year, and may we ring in 2023 a healthier and more equitable nation!



Tracey is a blog contributor for Brownicity. Her background includes training and organizational development, employee relations, and corporate recruiting in Charlotte’s banking industry.  A wife and mother of two daughters, Tracey began her racial healing journey when she participated in What Lies Between Us in 2018.  She was moved to participate in the workshop as her concern grew about the number of police shootings where unarmed black men were killed.  Colin Kaepernick’s  kneeling during the singing of the national anthem solidified her desire to learn and do more about ending racism.