LaFHAC’s Policy Analyst, Karléh Wilson, wrote an Op-Ed for The Lens about the importance of the 2020 Census for African Americans and its role in addressing the inequalities that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed.
The coronavirus has disproportionately claimed African American lives nationwide, unmasking structural racism that continues to deepen disparities in healthcare trends and life outcomes across America.
Seventy percent of COVID-19-related deaths in Louisiana are African American, and health experts have explained how this disparity is due to the high rate of underlying conditions that Black people in our state are prone to, such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. These disparities are unacceptable, but you might be surprised to know that something as simple as filling out the Census can ensure we have the resources and political will we need to finally address them.
Thanks to decades of federal, state, and local policies that fueled racially segregated housing patterns, African American families that live in urban areas are more likely to commute to work on public transportation and live in neighborhoods with environmental hazards and pollution. For many of us, several hours of commuting back and forth to work make it difficult to access healthy food options outside of fast food, often the only food available in the neighborhood.
Renters in Louisiana unfortunately lack basic protections available in most other states against substandard conditions like toxic mold. The threat of eviction makes it more likely for us to live with health hazards in our homes rather than risk retaliation from our landlords. Poor food options lead to health issues, and exposure to mold for long periods of time may cause asthma and many of the other autoimmune disorders that make COVID-19 deadly.
African Americans are dying from living in segregated neighborhoods with environmental hazards and a lack of access to employment and nutrition. When it comes to improving these social determinants of health, the census is a game changer.
To read the rest of the Op-Ed, click here: https://thelensnola.org/2020/04/14/african-americans-more-likely-to-die-from-covid-19-less-likely-to-get-counted-in-census/