The coronavirus intensifies the vicious circle of black communities

Le coronavirus intensifie le cercle vicieux des communautés noires

Chronic diseases, poverty, social injustices and racism: the COVID-19 widening the inequalities faced by the black population, even here in Quebec.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the doctors indicate that chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity make those who suffer from it more vulnerable to contracting the COVID-19 or more vulnerable to be affected more severely when they are achieved.

The black communities are particularly affected by these comorbidities, according to Schiller Castor, president, haitian medical Association abroad. In the United States, in the State of Illinois, for example, Blacks represent less than 15% of the population, but nearly 30% of deaths from the epidemic, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).

“It is a vicious circle. The health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity have a direct correlation with social inequalities and with poverty. […] It is because of poverty,” says Mr. Beaver.

A double-edged knife

In the borough of Montréal-Nord, hard hit by the pandemic last month, the situation can be observed in two ways. First, 25 % of the registered cases of the coronavirus came from the health sector which are part of many orderlies, nurses and doctors.

“I would not be surprised that most of them are from the haitian community. In addition, we know that one person out of four in Montreal-North is black, so by the force of things, there is a correlation,” says the mayor of the borough, Christine Black.

On the other hand, several residents of his district, not just in the black community, have limited financial resources and must live in accommodation with several other people. “It makes it more vulnerable to all diseases,” adds the mayor.

Unemployment and precariousness

The current crisis, which has drastically pushed up the unemployment rate, highlights the precariousness of employment of the black population. In the United States, while the unemployment rate recorded in April was 14.7 %, it was among blacks at 16.7 % and among whites at 14.2 %, according to the “New York Times”.

If the rate of unemployment to 13.7 % in Canada last may is not used to identify the divisions between the people black or white, the latest census from Statistics Canada, published last February shows the extent of the problem. In 2016, the unemployment rate stood at 10.2% among the black men and women compared to 5.8% among women and 6.7 % among men in the rest of the population. The previous year, a black man earned on average $ 15,000 less than a white man.

“It’s going to be even more serious and to have an even greater impact in the point of view of the economy after the crisis”, says Dr Beaver.

A tsunami after the storm

If the pandemic is already affecting the black population from an economic point of view, the death of George Floyd has largely contributed to the affect on the psychological plane.

“There are plenty of blacks who have not watched the video because we live in it every day […] This is not the straw that broke the camel’s back, it’s the tsunami after the storm,” says Marie-Livia Beaugé, of the montreal-based organization that Hoodstock.

To it that fight against the police brutality since the death of Fredy Villanueva in 2008, the death of George Floyd in the United States has just added to the fatigue already present in the black community of Montreal.

“I don’t know how the books of history will call it, I don’t know if this will be post-George Floyd or post-COVID, but it is in the process of change of era, because people are tired of inequality,” she says.

With the death of this man who shows the face of the world a social injustice latent, Ms. Beaugé believes that drastic changes are needed if one wishes to deconstruct this structural problem.

“We need to stop the small steps and make a long jump and make up for the delay we took,” says the one who, alongside other members of his organization, has raised over $ 150,000 in recent weeks to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect the citizens of Montréal-Nord.

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