During a time of global pandemic, where communities around the world are pulling together to help one another get through a devastating illness, London Mayor Sadiq Khan still found time to complain about racism. This time, since there is no human culprit to blame, Khan points to “structural racism” as an underlying factor.
Coronavirus can strike anyone, and since it is so easily spread, can infect entire households and communities in a short period of time. While any one can be impacted by the virus, some communities and demographics are harder hit than others. The very old, the very young, and some racial groups have seen higher numbers of complications and deaths. But Khan is only concerned with the way the illness has split along racial lines. Older people and babies don’t really have the same impact as charges of systematic racism, so Khan has chosen to focus on this factor of coronavirus beyond any other.
This week, the mayor has called for an increased scrutiny on the impact of coronavirus on specific communities, claiming that racism has led to a higher toll in some areas than others. He would like the government to begin publishing the ethnicities of those impacted by the disease, stating that its disprotporionate impact on areas that have high numbers of people of color is due to racism.
“Even though it can be uncomfortable for some to acknowledge, we cannot ignore the barriers of discrimination and structural racism that exist in our society, which contribute to ethnic minorities being more likely to suffer from poverty, have underlying health conditions and work in insecure, low-paid jobs,” Khan wrote inThe Guardian.
The London mayor continued to outline the reasons that the illness is racist, or a product or racism:
“People from ethnic minority backgrounds are overrepresented in poor, overcrowded accommodation, or households with multiple generations under one roof” are more likely to spread the illness to one another. Khan says that the race, not the setting, income, jobs or other factors of these individuals has led them to have higher rates of illness.
Khan also suggested that the employment undertaken by some groups made them more at risk. He felt that this was largely because of the race of the workers, which he feels dictates the jobs they choose to perform.
“Many simply don’t have the luxury of being able to work safely from home during the lockdown. All of this contributes to a BAME population with worse health than average, lower life expectancy and a greater prevalence of serious underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes,” Khan added.
Coronavirus continues to spread around the globe and impacts doctors, white collar workers, blue collar workers and entire communities, regardless of race, despite what Khan has to share about racism. The attempt to bring race into the conversation instead of focusing on ways to halt the spread or increase education can only hurt those most at risk.