By Zhong Sheng
Racial disparity has triggered wide criticism both in and out the U.S. in recent years.
U.S. President Joe Biden listed racial equity as one of the top four priorities within his term, calling for unity and healing in his inauguration speech in which he referred to the issue as “a cry for racial justice, some 400 years in the making.”
As a matter of fact, racial discrimination has always been pervasive and systematic in the U.S. society, creating ceaseless chaos with its deeply buried roots that are hard to remove. The astonishing news about racial discrimination in the U.S. ever reported is just the tip of an iceberg.
At present, the challenges brought by COVID-19 are further exposing the extra impacts shouldered by U.S. minorities and mirroring the systematic inequity among different ethnic groups in their occupation of economic and social resources.
“Look in our community: You see food deserts, transportation deserts, and education deserts,” said Celia Maxwell, Associate Dean for Research with Howard University College of Medicine. “All the social determinants of health that you would look to [in order to] keep the community in good health are missing from our communities of color,” the African American woman added.
The right to health of U.S. minorities is fragile, especially amid the pandemic. According to a 2020 research by Kaiser Family Foundation, Blacks remained 1.5 times more likely to be uninsured than Whites from 2010 to 2018, and the Hispanic uninsured rate remained over 2.5 times higher than the rate for Whites.
The expensive medical cost is also forcing many from ethnic minorities to give up treatment. Even if they are hospitalized, the inequality they suffer is still there. African American doctor Susan Moore recently posted a video to denounce the racial discrimination while undergoing treatment for COVID-19. The New York Times, citing researches, also said there was inequality in treatment between African Americans and White Americans.
As the U.S. begins its COVID-19 vaccination, the gap between the vaccination rates among different ethnic groups starts to widen. An CNN analysis by CNN of data from multiple states found vaccine coverage is much higher among White people on average than it is among ethnic minorities. The vaccination rate of Whites in some states is even three times that of the Blacks.
Economically, U.S. ethnic minorities are facing severer difficulties. Between February and April last year, 41 percent of Black-owned businesses closed, compared with 17 percent of white businesses, according to the New York Federal Reserve.
American journalism agency Politico recently stressed the growing racial wealth gap in the U.S. It said Black families have faced a well-documented pattern of financial discrimination.
For example, they are denied loans at much higher rates than white families with similar credit profiles — and face higher interest rates when they do qualify. Ron Busby, president, CEO and founder of the U.S. Black Chambers noted that Black people were less likely to be eligible for federal stimulus programs designed to prop up the economy.
Polls indicated discontent of the majority when it comes to the racial problem. However, many reforms and measures related to racial inequity were aborted out of political reasons. The U.S. government is hardly able to address the issue due to political polarization. In recent years, when racial conflicts broke out, the U.S. government barely safeguarded justice. Some American politicians are even obsessed with wordplay, turning racial problems that the U.S. society shall face as a whole into a weapon for political attacks, which has long triggered dissatisfaction among the public.
American civil rights leader Rashad Robinson said the U.S. needs to take actions to end racial discrimination, which was to the point. He called for efforts to turn discourse into governance. Derrick Johnson, president of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People stressed that it calls for not only personal stands to achieve racial equality, but also a series of clear-cut results.
The later the racial equality arrives, the farther the racial justice goes, which will further fuels the flame of the racial fury. Systematic and radical measures, as well as real actions are what the U.S. society truly needs.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)