A couple of weeks ago while driving and listening to the radio, I heard Houston mayor Sylvester Turner say that people of color were disproportionately affected by Covid-19. 1 First of all this is terrible news, and it’s tragic that anyone is affected by this dreaded disease, but when mayor Turner said — “people of color” — it got me thinking. I thought wait a minute…people of color are disproportionately affected by Covid-19? It seems like I frequently hear the phrase “people of color are disproportionately affected”.
The more I thought about it the more I could recall hearing people of color being disproportionately affected by something, so I decided to search for examples — the following are some of the results. People of color are disproportionately affected by low wage jobs 2, unemployment 3, food insecurity 4, rising housing prices 5, and air pollution 6 .
The list continues…climate change 7, lead poisoning 8, water contamination 9, poor health 10 , food deserts 16, layoffs 17, the brunt of Carona virus economic pain 18, private prisons 19, plastic surgery 28, gunfire on school grounds 20, hurricanes, earthquakes, and disaster inequality 23 all disproportionately affect people of color.
The more I searched the more I thought, “How can this be?” The housing emergency 11, real estate 12, extreme weather 13, mass incarceration 14, voter ID laws 15, schools 22, transportation automation 24, artificial intelligence 25, minimum wage 26, and plastic pollution 27 are all listed as disproportionately affecting people of color.
It seems as though whenever a natural disaster, virus, new technology, or economic challenge occurs, it’s people of color that are disproportionately affected! Black, Hispanic, Asians, Native Americans, and Indians all suffer more than non-Hispanic white people? Really?
What are the disproportionately affected doing, or not doing that may be contributing to their plight? Should white people be studied to determine why they don’t suffer as much? Or maybe people of color aren’t really disproportionately affected. Perhaps the media, politicians, and academia want us to believe we’re victims? Yes, I’m a person of color but I’m not a victim. Placing people of color in the victim tent provides a clear demarcation from white people – us vs them – and this can be exploited in politics.
I’ve heard politicians use several group victim identifiers when discussing people of color – the historically underserved, the traditionally under represented, the historically underutilized, the traditionally under resourced, and the disproportionately affected. Are we to believe people of color are that fragile? It’s insulting.
I don’t believe voter ID laws disproportionately affect people of color. I don’t believe air pollution disproportionately affects people of color. I don’t believe hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes target people of color, and I don’t believe plastic surgery disproportionately affects people of color. I believe inflated police shooting statistics, exaggerated reporting of racial tension, and stating that people of color are disproportionately affected are methods used to convince minorities that they’re victims.
We’re not victims.