The rapid increase in protests against police violence is exposing the inequalities of minorities in the face of the health crisis, US media reported on Monday.
Cliff Albright is African-American and lives in Atlanta, where he co-founded a collective encouraging members of his community to vote. Asked by The Washington Post for his analysis at the end of a weekend of protests against police violence on Sunday, Albright said, “People are talking about two viruses – racism and coronavirus. »
On May 25, the death of a man, George Floyd, during a police checkpoint was the trigger for a large-scale protest against systemic discrimination of African-Americans by law enforcement in the United States.
But the rapidity with which the anger of the demonstrators spread to dozens of cities and the scenes of violence – at least five people died in one week – led several American media to highlight two deeper sources of the crisis: the economic and social inequalities suffered by the African-American community, which themselves are partly responsible for a much higher mortality rate of Covid-19 among African-Americans.
Three aggravating factors
As early as May 23, in a survey that found that blacks in the United States were three times more likely to be hospitalized for infection with the new coronavirus than whites and Hispanics, New York Times reporter Roni Caryn Rabin cited three aggravating factors: “Overcrowded housing, poorer overall health on average, and limited access to health care services. »
“We can’t see the disproportionate number of African Americans dying in our hospitals, but we can see the isolated case of George Floyd, smothered in the street,” Jennifer Senior said in a column on Sunday, May 31, on the New York Times Web site. The editorialist sees the scale of the protest as indicative of a long-standing anger, stored among the protesters and then unleashed by Mr. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis :
“African Americans – and many whites, too – were so angry that they took to the streets to protest, even in the midst of a pandemic, and when African Americans are most threatened by this pandemic. »
This movement is not only linked to George Floyd,” Yvonne Passmore, 65, an African-American woman from Minneapolis, told the Washington Post. It’s the result of years of being treated like dirt – and not just by the police. We don’t have access to a proper health care system. We don’t have access to proper housing. There is so much discrimination, and not just in the face of justice. It’s all of it. »
Criticisms of violence
A “whole” that ended up “pushing people over the edge,” former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told the Los Angeles Times in an op-ed piece on May 30. The black community is used to institutional racism in the school system, the justice system and the job market,” he said. But Covid-19 has precipitated [this discrimination] in our community, where we are dying at a significantly higher rate than whites, and we are the first to lose our jobs. »
In the same text, Mr. Abdul-Jabbar asked the many critics of the violence observed during the demonstrations to reconsider their judgment in the light of the injustices suffered by black people in the United States. “I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burned down,” he said, but “African Americans have been living in a burning building for years. … What you see from black protesters is not the same if you live in that building, or if you watch it on TV with a bowl of potato chips in your lap.
The issue of understanding or denouncing the shift to violence is also reflected in the coverage of the riots by The Nation, America’s oldest weekly newspaper, first published in 1865. Every person has a limit to the injustices they can endure before they run amok,” writes journalist Elis Mystal. I would never set fire to offices. But I want to. And I understand why some people do it. »
To understand the motivations of the demonstrators, the conservative media Daily Signal relays the testimonies of various leaders of the African-American community. Sophia Nelson, author, calls for the need to recognize and discuss the different experiences of blacks and whites: “It is not good to continue to pretend that you do not see our skin color in what we are going through,” she writes. My reality is not your reality. That will never happen. But we need to open up these courageous discussions. »