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Preface

Even as the most urgent dangers of the pandemic may appear to be subsiding throughout America, communities of color continue to face very real threats. The ongoing detrimental consequences of COVID-19 will impact these communities far beyond this one “pandemic year.”

The COVID-19 global pandemic has starkly illuminated the ever-present problems produced by structural racism.

This policy brief aims to articulate the relationship between the negative impacts of COVID-19 and race, as well as provide recommendations for policymakers to mitigate these negative outcomes in future decisions.

While these data may be provocative and new to some, we at the Partnership for Southern Equity understand the ways in which systemic racism compounds and accelerates negative outcomes for Black and historically disinvested communities of color. COVID-19 has reminded us that a variety of super-structures can compound the effects of this deadly pandemic, and we at PSE would posit that racism is not a social determinant of health but the social determinant of health for Black and other historically disinvested communities of color.

To effectively turn the tide on the pain inflicted by COVID-19, we must fight against structural racism using an intersectional approach. By understanding the intersections between health, wealth, and education, we can chart a path towards true victory against COVID-19.

Some of the recommendations you will find in this policy brief include: Increase Apprenticeship Opportunities, Minority Small Business Support, Expand Access to Responsible Credit and Capital, and Advocating for Federal Minimum Wage Increase. These common-sense approaches are anchored in data and research and can set the stage for how policymakers might work collectively to heal communities that have been on the margins for centuries, and whose disparities have been deepened by inequitable policies and responses during this pandemic.

It is my hope that we use this research not only to expand the body of knowledge, but to move towards real policy changes that prioritize the health and well-being of Black and other historically disinvested communities of color – as well as mitigate the deepened divides and new disparities that these communities will continue to grapple with for years to come.

Onward towards equity,

Nathaniel Q. Smith, Jr.