Black Trans Lives Matter, So Where's the COVID-19 Data?

Plus, most prisons aren't collecting racial data, many cops aren't wearing masks at protest, and a look at Black communities in China, Brazil, Haiti, Colombia, Australia, South Africa, and beyond.

Speak Patrice Presents: Coronavirus News for Black Folks is an independent newsletter that aims to empower our community by sharing coronavirus (COVID-19) news and stories as they relate to the Black Diaspora. We have 1,452 subscribers as of June 1, 2020.

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The Black Trans community faces an epidemic within a pandemic. Where is the COVID-19 data?

You might have missed these two articles about how the coronavirus is disproportionately impacting the Black LGBTQ community, so here they are again in this week’s newsletter:

'In Survival Mode': The Pandemic Is Devastating the Black LGBTQ Community

How COVID-19 Impacts Black LGBTQ+ People

Since starting this Coronavirus News for Black Folks back in early April, I’ve searched all over—unsuccessfully—for articles detailing how the coronavirus disease is disproportionately impacting the Black trans community. The closest I’ve gotten are articles like the ones above, which focus on the broader LGBTQ community and were published in late May. But similar to the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, the notorious 911 call made by Amy Cooper, and the racial disparities among COVID-19 deaths, I didn’t need any video or statistic to prove to myself what I’ve witnessed while reporting on the deaths of Dana Martin, Michelle Simone, Muhlaysia Booker, Claire Legato, Ashanti Carmon, and many other Black trans women who’ve since become hashtag calls for justice.

Today, that reckoning of prolonged marginalization and endangerment has boiled over. The nationwide epidemic of anti-trans violence and killings facing Black trans people, particularly women, has finally received the attention and acknowledgment that comes with coverage from predominantly white-staffed publications. As we’ve seen with the coronavirus and police brutality and white supremacy, recent events involving Black death have shone an unprecedented global spotlight on a problem that vulnerable, disenfranchised communities have been decrying for generations. And none of these pandemics are operating independently from one another. In fact, they compound one another, creating a dire batch of disparities whose data have yet to be collected and presented by any federal government agencies. Just as we learned with racial data, disparities don’t have a history of being addressed unless highlighted, so the call for the protection, safety, and equal rights of Black trans people is as relevant to this newsletter as every other topic addressed in the articles below.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: As reported in this first article, “A Hazardous Moment for Black Health,” consuming media related to police brutality and killings, disproportionate COVID-19 deaths among Black people, and other instances of systemic racism can have a physically and mentally damaging effect on Black people. So please read the articles in this newsletter at your own pace, taking note of your anxiety and stress levels.

📍10 Must-Read Stories

A Hazardous Moment for Black Health

“The means of destruction, she says, include the body's own defenses: autonomic release of fight-or-flight hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in what's called the HPA axis. Barnett compares it to how she ruined her new Mercedes by driving it out of the dealership and onto the freeway, doing 75 miles per hour.

‘Seventy-five minutes later, the car overheated. I'd burned up the engine,’ Barnett says. So it is, she adds, with the unceasing stress of everyday racism.

‘You burn out the car engine, you burn out the body's HPA axis,’ she says, leading to what's known clinically as a ‘blunted’ response to stress. When the stress inevitably continues, she says, ‘then we're looking at anxiety and trauma. And when it's very, very high, what we're looking at is depression.’”

40% of black-owned businesses not expected to survive coronavirus

“By comparison, 17% of white-owned businesses closed during the same period, the UC Santa Cruz research shows. Several factors explain the high rate of closures of black-owned businesses. Perhaps most important, many lack access to bank credit, making it harder to survive financial emergencies.”

RELATED: Black restaurant owners band together to stay afloat amid pandemic

Is coronavirus falling harder on Black prisoners? Officials won't say

“..the limited data available suggest that while Black people are more likely to contract COVID-19, as well as die from the virus, outside prisons, they may be even more likely to do so behind bars. Consider Michigan, one of the only states that has tested every single prisoner for COVID-19. Black residents comprise just 14% of the state’s overall population, but roughly half of the state’s prisoners […] By Thursday, 48% of prisoners who had died were Black, compared with 40% of people who died in the state overall.”

Many Police Aren’t Wearing Masks, Posing Yet Another Risk To Protesters In A Pandemic

“Across the country, police departments have left it up to individual officers to decide if they will wear a mask while dealing with the public. A HuffPost analysis of hundreds of videos and photos posted over the past two weeks of the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whom officers asphyxiated on camera last month, found that the majority of police working the demonstrations do not appear to be wearing protective masks.”

Racism contributed to disproportionate UK BAME coronavirus deaths, inquiry finds

“The conclusion is contained in a section of a government-commissioned report that ministers have refused to publish, apparently for fear of stoking tensions around race and racism after protests in response to George Floyd’s killing by a white police officer in Minneapolis.”

RECOMMENDED: 'The data was there – so why did it take coronavirus to wake us up to racial health inequalities?'

Historically black colleges fight for survival, reopening amid coronavirus pandemic

“Most HBCUs – particularly private colleges such as Miles that receive little to no state support – depend more on enrollment and have smaller endowments than other universities. Some were struggling financially before the coronavirus, leaving experts to wonder how many will survive if the pandemic leads to a prolonged dip in enrollment.”

As the coronavirus accelerates in Haiti, top doctor says no need to test

“The deadly novel coronavirus is so prevalent in Haiti, where a fever has been raging for weeks, that a top authority on public health is now saying there’s no need to test anymore to declare that someone is infected.”

How medical bias against black people is shaping Covid-19 treatment and care

“Throughout American history, Black people have endured a medical system that has been simultaneously exploitative and dismissive. And the damaging implicit and explicit biases present in our medical system do not suddenly vanish because we are in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, the pandemic has made them impossible to ignore.”

COVID-19 Is Deadlier For Black Brazilians, A Legacy Of Structural Racism That Dates Back To Slavery

“During the pandemic, this economic insecurity severely lessens Afro-Brazilians’ ability to socially distance and makes them highly dependent on staying in their jobs despite the health threat. Maids, for example —most of whom are black women— are proving to be a high-risk group. Domestic workers were among Brazil’s first COVID-19 deaths.”

RELATED: OP-ED: Brazil's pandemic: catastrophe and resistance

‘We don’t get justice’: When a black girl’s death from covid-19 feels like a collision of two crises | alternative free link*

Health commissioners in New York and New Jersey released data this week that showed black or Hispanic children have been disproportionately affected by the pediatric syndrome — representing roughly two-thirds of all cases. Similar findings have been reported in Europe. In Paris, doctors at one hospital wrote in the medical journal BMJ that 12 of 21 children seen there were of African or Caribbean heritage. In another outbreak in the southeastern United Kingdom, six of eight cases were children of color.”


🇺🇸National News

Coronavirus Cases Spike Across Sun Belt as Economy Lurches into Motion

“Arizona, Texas and Florida are reporting their highest case numbers yet. As of Saturday, coronavirus cases were climbing in 22 states amid reopenings.”

Coronavirus kills Black people at twice the rate as white people: Here’s what we can do about it

“Health experts from around the country said there are concrete steps we can take to create better outcomes for all Americans in this pandemic and beyond. Here are some of their thoughts. Name the issue: Structural racism.”

RELATED:

Black voters are more worried than others about health and economic damage from coronavirus, poll finds

“Among black voters, 94% have very or somewhat serious concerns about Covid-19. That compares with 75% and 57% of Hispanic and white respondents, respectively. Eighty-five percent of black respondents have very or somewhat serious concerns about reopening the economy too soon, versus 68% of Hispanic voters and 48% of white voters.”

'Covid will not kill you as fast as a bullet': Black doctors go from frontlines of pandemic to protests

“‘Professionalism won’t save us,’ said Chioma Iwelumo, a medical student in New York who came to the protest holding a sign for Breonna Taylor, an EMT and frontline worker who was killed by police in her own home […] ‘When we fight for black people, we’re also fighting for ourselves. This is about patients, but also about me.’

RELATED: White coats and black lives: Health care workers say 'racism is a pandemic too'

‘Pandemic Within a Pandemic’: Coronavirus and Police Brutality Roil Black Communities

“‘It’s really a simple question: ‘Am I going to let a disease kill me or am I going to let the system — the police?’ he said. ‘And if something is going to take me out when I don’t have a job, which one do I prefer? Folks who don’t have much else to lose — they understand that this system isn’t built for black people. And that’s why people are in the streets.’”

Are you a protester? Health experts suggest requesting a COVID-19 test

"‘I don't think using public health as a reason to discourage protests after these events is really appropriate […] It's a little disingenuous to say that the health risk from protesting is somehow bigger than the health risk at Lake of Ozarks (where people gathered for fun over Memorial Day weekend) or the practices that brought us to this point in the first place.’"

Ohio Lawmaker Asks Racist Question About Black People and Hand-Washing

“An Ohio lawmaker was fired from his job as a physician on Thursday after asking at a hearing this week if the high rate of coronavirus cases among African-Americans was because “the colored population” did not wash their hands as well as other groups.”

Beauty Salons Are Reopening, But the Risk Is Real

“Black and Latino business owners in the beauty industry are far more likely to be self-employed, more likely to be rejected from federal funding, and less likely to receive government assistance during this crisis.”

RECOMMENDED: Covid-19 Salon Reopening Guidelines

A bill in Congress could get to the bottom of how coronavirus links air pollution and racism

“‘Instead of strengthening regulations to reinforce protections for communities made vulnerable by poor air quality, we have an administration that has rolled back over 100 regulations in the context of COVID-19…’”

Grass-roots groups take on the hard work of correcting coronavirus disparities

“Drive-up testing won’t work if people don’t have a car. Also, some people don’t feel comfortable accessing services outside of their community. […] Another problem is that most of the new testing sites require people to bring an identification card or enter their e-mail address. People might not have those, and even if they do, a lot of people don’t trust the system enough to hand over this information.” 

Black travel professionals are embracing coronavirus restrictions

“The Black travel movement started gaining steam after the Great Recession, so for many young entrepreneurs, COVID-19 is the first economic crisis to hit their business. Black Americans are being hit especially hard by COVID-19, both physically and economically.”

HOW UNDOCUMENTED RESIDENTS CAN PROTEST SAFELY FOR BLACK LIVES MATTER

“…you can collect supplies such as masks, sunblock, goggles, water, hand towels, hand sanitizers, gloves, and first aid kits for protesters. Providing transportation and childcare for those in need will also be highly appreciated. You can even volunteer to be an emergency contact to help notify loved ones in the event of arrests and ensure that bail funds are organized.”

Every Black Celebrity Diagnosed With Coronavirus

“COVID-19, which has symptoms of high fever, headache and extreme body aches, is also sadly making its way through Hollywood, with many celebrities coming forward to reveal they’ve been diagnosed.”


📰 LOCAL NEWS

PENNSYLVANIA — Black Doctors will test SEPTA employees for COVID-19 at stations

Black clergy convene to discuss the toll of COVID-19 and a way forward

CALIFORNIA — There’s a black jobs crisis. Coronavirus is making it worse

FLORIDA — Florida’s largest majority-black city was doing well. Then came the coronavirus.

ILLINOIS — Chicago Tackles COVID-19 Disparities In Hard-Hit Black And Latino Neighborhoods

WASHINGTON — King County partners with Beyoncé and her mom for free drive-thru coronavirus testing this weekend

MISSOURI — Coronavirus and Columbia’s Black Community: ‘I Feel Like A Flood is Coming for the Vulnerable’

TEXAS — Texas to increase coronavirus testing — and study the virus’ impact — in black and Hispanic communities

MICHIGAN — Detroit artist creates floral installations to honor Black historic sites and help florists hurt by coronavirus

WASHINGTON — Black Women Leaders Launches Fund To Support State’s Black Community


🌍 GLOBAL NEWS

FYI, there are stories from Brazil, U.K., and Haiti in the must-read section.

LATIN AMERICA REGION — Coronavirus: What are the numbers out of Latin America?

“Brazil has had more than 800,000 confirmed cases - the second highest in the world. Other countries in the region, including Mexico, Chile and Peru, are also struggling to contain major outbreaks. With new confirmed cases in the US plateauing and many European countries reporting declining numbers, what are the trends in Latin America?”

U.K. — 56% of pregnant women in hospital for COVID-19 black, ethnic minority

“Even after they adjusted for possible confounding factors, such as obesity and overweight or preexisting medical conditions, the researchers found that pregnant women who are black or of ethnic minorities were still significantly more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than pregnant white women.”

AFRICAN REGION — WHO says coronavirus outbreak in Africa 'accelerating'

“Moeti said community transmission had begun in more than half of Africa's 54 countries, calling that ‘a serious sign.’ More than 5,500 coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed so far across the continent. […] lower numbers of international travellers arriving to spread the virus, quick reactions by African leaders, and the weather could also have played a role in lessening the blow.”

SOUTH AFRICA — OP-ED: In South Africa, Racial Tensions Simmer Amid a Pandemic

“…race is inseparable from the coronavirus crisis. While most white people (and increasingly many members of the black middle class) live in spacious homes with gardens, social distancing is but a dream for poor black people in this country’s overcrowded townships—their very layout a product of apartheid.”

RELATED: Coronavirus pandemic exposes South Africa's 'brutal inequality'

CARIBBEAN REGION Sun, surf and COVID-19. Jamaica, Bahamas start to welcome back tourists, nationals.

“‘Data suggests that many are hoping for a sun, sand and sea vacation after the dreary lockdowns. But they also want to be safe. Is the housekeeper, maître d’, taxi driver or hair braider COVID safe? We cannot leave this up to chance […] As we open up Eleuthera, Exuma and the other islands, let us be mindful that we are doing so blindly. Surveillance must be undergirded with testing’…”

42,000 cruise ship workers still trapped at sea

“The drawn-out crew repatriation process has underscored the complex relationship between the cruise industry and the Caribbean countries its ships most frequently visit, and reignited the debate about whether countries are getting a fair shake from the industry.”

CHINA — ‘We Need Help’: Coronavirus Fuels Racism Against Black Americans in China

“Last month, an African-American teacher in Guangzhou, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, was confined for 14 days to a locked hospital isolation room, despite repeatedly testing negative for the virus. After having ‘a mental breakdown,’ she said, she pleaded with the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to intervene. ‘It didn’t feel like they were fighting for us […] We saw other countries’ governments talking to China and trying to resolve this, but not ours.’”

AUSTRALIA — Black Lives Matter: health experts assess risks of Covid-19 transmission at Australia protests

“Australian protesters took to the streets in solidarity on Saturday, campaigning for an end to Aboriginal deaths in custody. There have been 437 known Aboriginal deaths since the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody delivered its final report in 1991, and yet despite this, change has been slow.”

RELATED:

COLOMBIA — Photos: An Afro-Colombian Photojournalist Documents the Coronavirus Crisis in Chocó

“A woman sits in front of her kiosk piled high with fresh fish in a market along the Atrato River. Even in a mask, her face reveals her despair and expectation—common feelings right now for those battling the COVID-19 pandemic in Quibdó, the capital of Chocó, a region home to many of Colombia's Black and indigenous people. Photojournalist Jeison Riascos captured this image while documenting the outbreak in his hometown in the west of the country.”

RELATED: Colombia’s port cities bear brunt of coronavirus mortality as cases reach 43,682


⚠️ NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS, BUT IMPORTANT

Oluwatoyin Salau, Missing Black Lives Matter Activist, Is Found Dead

“A 19-year-old Black Lives Matter activist whose disappearance this month led to a desperate search after she sent a series of tweets describing a sexual assault has been found dead in Tallahassee, Fla., the police said Monday.”

Na’Kia Crawford mourned at vigil; police release photos of suspect vehicle in her shooting death

“Witnesses at the protest told the Beacon Journal and police that a white man in a black sports car shot Crawford. Family members said they believe the incident was racially motivated.”

Families Challenge Suicide in Deaths of Black Men Found Hanging From Trees

“‘Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right […] We’ve been hearing one thing. Then we hear another. And we just want to know the truth.’”

Supreme Court's LGBTQ ruling may sideline Trump's health care rules

“Monday’s case was specifically about employment, but the same legal interpretation will likely carry over to other areas, most notably health care — and that could cause problems for some of the Trump administration's policies.”

Caribbean Islands Join Protests Against Racism In Solidarity For Black Lives Matter

“Amidst the ongoing international rallies in response to police brutality and the dealth of George Floyd, Caribbean people all over the world have shown their unshakable solidarity.”

Where Did BIPOC Come From?

“‘We understand that under colonialism African and Indigenous people had very different experiences […] To conflate everything in one is to erase, which is the very nature of genocidal practice.’”


Two weeks later…

It’s been a minute, but I’m back. When I first started this newsletter, people kept asking me what I would do if/when the coronavirus became less relevant. And while I do not think we’re at that point by any means, I do think it’s worth broadening the newsletter to include news about the other pandemics impacting the Black community. How I go about making that pivot of sorts is TBD…

Also, I’ve done a lot of videos and interviews about my work in the past 2-3 weeks and will include those links in a future newsletter issue (some are on my personal website.) For now, you can find more up-to-date announcements on my work on Twitter and, more often, on Instagram at @speakpatrice.

And finally, consider checking out my Patreon page if you’d like to support my journalism work. I’ll have some content on there starting this week.

Become a Patron

— Stay safe and take care ✊🏿💗

Patrice Peck