Global Edition #4: Coronavirus News for Black Folks

Africa defies COVID-19 nightmare scenarios, St. Lucia becomes the exception in the Caribbean, Brazil Supreme Court bans police raids in Rio de Janeiro favelas during pandemic and more.

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 2,084 subscribers as of September 24, 2020. Please consider (1) clicking that itty bitty ❤️ at the top of this email next to my name to “like” us, (2) subscribing, and (3) supporting this newsletter by sharing it with your friends and family.

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Greetings from a rainy Hồ Chí Minh City, Vietnam…

As the world approaches one million COVID-19 deaths and passes 32 million cases, it has become clear that the implications of the pandemic extend far beyond its direct impact on physical health. The pandemic has served as a breeding ground for other devastating scenarios throughout the African diaspora, including gender-based violence in countries with reporting systems in place, an increasing lack of access to reproductive health supplies and services, and instances of poverty that could set gender equality back by decades.

And still, keeping in the Black cross-cultural tradition of resilience, those most heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent ills have also been shown to be the most creative and expressive. This week’s cover image of a student at Ballet of Paraisopolis best illustrates this. Located in the Paraisópolis favela in Sao Paulo, Brazil—one of the world’s hardest hit nations—the dance school is just returning from a four-month hiatus due to the pandemic. “I was really anxious to come back. It felt like my first time,” Kemilly Luanda, a 17-year-old dancer and local resident, told AFP.

— Clydeen McDonald, Contributing Editor of Global Diaspora News

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MUST-READ NEWS

Africa has defied the covid-19 nightmare scenarios. We shouldn’t be surprised. [OP-ED]

“As experts predicted how the pandemic would be a unique and devastating disaster in Africa, my siblings and I scrambled to get my father a spot on a State Department repatriation flight for U.S. citizens. We rushed to get him out because we thought he would be better off in the United States. But after he got back to Texas, the number of cases there started to rise, and I joked with him that he would have been safer in Ghana.”

RELATED: As US struggles, Africa’s COVID-19 response is praised

Op-Ed: Africa is Not the Center of The Coronavirus Epidemic and the West is Pissed

The Caribbean has reopened and COVID-19 is spreading — but one island is finding success

“The Dominican Republic, which leads the region with 106,136 cases and 2,022 deaths, the Bahamas and Jamaica continue to report large daily increases in COVID-19 cases since fully reopening, while less populated territories such as French Guiana, Aruba, and the Turks and Caicos Islands are leading the list of confirmed COVID-19 cases per capita.”

French media ignores minority role models during COVID-19 coverage

“While informative, these daily debates revealed a sad and painful truth: In today's ethnically diverse France, people who appeared on TV because they were deemed uniquely qualified to explain global crises and suggest solutions to the world's problems had the same skin color. They were all white.”

Africa: Covid-19 to Push 47 Million Women to Poverty

“This year, the poverty forecast observes that there will be 119 poor women for every 100 poor men aged 25 to 34 years, a ration expected to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030. It also indicates that unless measures are taken to shield the most vulnerable, by this time next year, 435 million women and girls will be living on less than $1.90 a day worldwide including 47 million specifically impoverished by Covid-19.”

RELATED: African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) Initiative Embedding Nutrition within the Covid-19 Response and Recovery [press release]

COVID-19 Worsens Mozambique’s Hunger

'It ruined my life': School closures in Kenya lead to rise in FGM

“Three days after Kenya recorded its first COVID-19 infection in mid-March, the government decided to close all schools. A few weeks later, Gumato's parents decided to have their daughter undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), which is prohibited in Kenya but still practiced by some tribes.”

Bloodshed eases in Brazilian favelas after court ban on police raids

“…the Supreme Court banned all such raids in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas during the pandemic, a move aimed at easing the suffering of the poor in one of the countries worst hit by COVID-19.

The ban has made it easier to distribute aid and led to a dramatic decline in violent deaths in the city, where regular gun battles between gang members and military police disproportionately affect poor, Black or mixed race people.”

Protests Against Police Brutality Spread in Colombia

“At least 45 people have been killed by police, paramilitary forces, and organized criminal groups in massacres during the Covid-19 pandemic. The murders occurred in seven separate incidents in the departments of Nariño, Cauca, Arauca, Valle del Cauca, and Antioquia. The majority of victims were Indigenous, Afro-descendant, or peasants.”

RELATED: Deadly Riots & Protests Against Police Brutality Break Out Across Colombia

Canada Just Launched a $221 Million Black Entrepreneurship Program

“The new program will also include $53 million to develop a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-owned businesses develop through mentorship programs and capital funding. Another $6.5 million will go to sustain the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to collect data on Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify how they can thrive.”


AFRICAN REGION

Ethiopia to begin manufacture and export of COVID-19 test kits

“The Minister added that Ethiopia will stop the import of test kits into the country, and will in the nearest future export the manufactured test kits to other African nations. Ethiopia has already tested over 1 million people and had confirmed 58,672 cases of the virus by September 9, including 21,307 recoveries and 918 deaths.”

Zambia headed for Africa’s first COVID-related debt default [PAYWALL]

"Pandemic costs had ‘resulted in a material impact on the government’s available resources to make timely payments on its indebtedness leading to increasing debt-servicing difficulties’, it added. Zambia has recorded about 14,000 cases and slightly more than 300 deaths from the pandemic to date.”

How did a 'cocktail of violence' engulf Mozambique’s gemstone, El Dorado?

“The fighting this year has seen many humanitarian groups withdraw from the region. Agencies say they can only access some of the worst areas by air, river, or sea, and that rural areas have been all but abandoned because of Covid-19.”

South Africa eases strict lockdown as cases drop

“From 20 September an overnight curfew will be reduced, gatherings will be allowed at 50% of a venue's capacity, and restrictions on the sale of alcohol will be eased. ‘We have withstood the coronavirus storm,’ said President Cyril Ramaphosa.”


CARIBBEAN REGION

Covid-19 is shaking up the citizenship by investment industry

“A millionaire from oil-rich Gabon, for example, needs to apply for a visa to enter Europe’s Schengen zone. But that process can take up to 60 days and evidence suggests that Schengen visa applications from Africa are more likely to get rejected. Instead, a second citizenship from a Caribbean nation would guarantee them visa-free access to Europe for $150,000.”

CARICOM Leaders Agree to Regional Travel Bubble in Response to COVID-19

“In a statement on debt, released in late June, AOSIS members said their economies – many of them reliant on tourism for up to 40% of GDP – were ‘in freefall’. Some would see their gross domestic product contract by 8-15% or more in the second half of 2020, it predicted. The crunch would reverse development “by decades”, and without action to relieve the financial pressure, SIDS risked ‘a protracted debt crisis’.”

RELATED: COVID causes cancellation of more Caribbean festivals

Island States Battle COVID-19, Climate Change And Debt Crisis

“The crunch would reverse development ‘by decades’, and without action to relieve the financial pressure, SIDS risked “a protracted debt crisis”, it warned. The document, which is the basis for ongoing diplomatic negotiations, noted that SIDS’ external debt reached $50.4 trillion in 2019, up from $29.3 trillion in 2009. The island states’ external debt rose from 51% of their combined GDP in 2009 to 61% a decade later, before the pandemic hit.”

Jamaica: No current plans for face-to-face classes, says Minister

“The minister pointed out that COVID-19 aside, Jamaica is currently in an education crisis as many students are failing subjects, particularly mathematics and English, which she said are founding blocks. ‘So, there is an urgency to get all students back in the learning mode as it regards to formal education but having said that, we recognize that we are in a pandemic like no other where fears and anxieties are high,’ Williams said.”

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CANADA NEWS

Study will test Black Canadians for antibodies to explore racial disparity in COVID-19 cases

“Studies show that people with COVID-19 antibodies are offered at least some immunity from reinfection, and antibody testing will give researchers an idea of what level of potential protection the Black community may have ahead of an anticipated second wave.”


UNITED KINGDOM NEWS

Coronavirus risk highest among cleaners and BAME workers in one NHS trust

“The UHBFT medics reported the workers from a BAME background ‘lived in significantly more deprived areas’, however, this was not linked to testing positive for coronavirus antibodies in their statistical analysis. ‘It is not clear from our study whether this increased risk of seropositivity [testing positive for antibodies] arises from a greater risk of exposure to the virus or a greater risk of infection if exposed to the [coronavirus],’ they wrote.”


LATIN AMERICA NEWS

Brazil slum ballet school taps resilience to survive pandemic

“The school had to postpone the debut performance because of the pandemic. Now, the students are working to get it ready as they return from the long interruption. Getting through lockdown has not been easy for the academy, which was founded in 2012 and provides free training to its 200 students thanks to public funding and private donations.”

Rio de Janeiro delays Carnival parades because of coronavirus pandemic

“Rio’s samba schools are hoping to throw the parades the middle of 2021, O Globo reported. Most schools have been shutdown since March and April 2020 because of the pandemic, leaving few practice opportunities and preventing the Carnival parades from taking place on time.”

Crisis in Venezuela: Non-governmental organizations adapt to survive

“A similar situation is playing out at PhyNatura, an NGO that develops agroforestry programs to preserve forests, and terrestrial and marine wildlife in the Caura River Basin in Bolívar state. PhyNatura establishes conservation agreements with Afro-Venezuelan, Indigenous, and Creole communities in order to preserve 148,000 hectares (about 365,715 acres) of forest, home to 724 bird species, and 1,179 tree species.”

The Post-Pandemic World of Favelas and Urban Peripheries

“In these times of coronavirus, it became clear that the subsistence of millions of people was hanging by a thread and, therefore, so too were the conditions for the reproduction of the Brazilian economic system. According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), during 2020, almost half of all Brazilians lived in households that received the emergency aid of R$600 (US$113) approved by the National Congress, destined for low-income and informal workers affected by the economic and public health calamity.”


AUSTRALIA

The worrying problem that could spark a surge in Aboriginal suicides

“The minister warned uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and how long it could take Australia to recover could directly impact the suicide rate. 'The world has changed as we all knew it,' he explained.  Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

After years of growth, Indigenous art sales have been hit hard by COVID-19

“In three months there had been a 30 percent fall in average sales, a 60 percent fall in the average number of artworks produced, and a 46 percent decline in the average number of artworks sold by art centres. Participation had also fallen with, on average, 31 percent fewer artists active at art centres. In just 107 days of lockdown total sales fell from $10.5 million to $7.3 million.”


OP-EDS

UN: political missions are gradually replacing peacekeeping – why that’s dangerous

“The situation of civilians in conflict zones around the world remains precarious. They risk attacks from rebel factions and government forces. They had to worry about infectious diseases such as malaria, cholera, dengue, and Ebola, even before COVID-19. The presence of a large peacekeeping mission can make a difference in the immediate aftermath to a crisis as shown after the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and Ebola in West Africa in 2013.”

The 'Rule Of Six' Is Just Another Excuse To Over-Police Young BAME People

“We fit the bill for blame-shifting. It suits the government to avoid taking ownership for their poor decisions. The recent rhetoric used in the news has catapulted us into the limelight but where has the attention on the impact of Covid-19 on young people been?”

Done right, a sustainable Covid-19 recovery is a $7.7trn opportunity

“While, comparatively, Covid-19 death rates have been low and share of recoveries high in Africa, the estimated losses to African economies range from $37bn – $79bn by the World Bank, to $35bn – $100bn by the African Development Bank, and as high as $275bn by the World Economic Forum.”

I'm an Afro-Latina, and This Is Why Black Lives Matter Is Our Movement as Well

“You don't need to know Spanish to understand these hashtags. This spring, we took to the streets not only in the US, but in Brazil, Colombia, and Costa Rica among other countries. The long reach of systemic racism, the killing of Black bodies by police, and COVID-19 is not contained by language. Black Lives Matter has connected all of us as African descendants. It is not a movement that is new to us.”

A green recovery of Latin America and the Caribbean is possible and necessary

“Right now, most economies in the region are facing two major challenges: recovering from a severe economic recession while addressing the needed transformations required for inclusive growth and sustainable development that delivers a path out of poverty for everyone. COVID-19 recovery programs that prioritize productivity, inclusion, and resilience will lead to more competitiveness and innovation and will build confidence in government and institutions.”

Corporate Canada needs to take an active role in dismantling anti-Black racism

“Black Canadians have long raised their voices about systemic bias in our systems. But society as a whole had not truly listened or fully understood that by characterizing incidents as one-offs or not reflective of who we are as Canadians, we dismissed the existence and impact of racism in our country.”


MULTIMEDIA NEWS

COVID-19  Helps Expand African Storytelling's Stage

“The ancient art of traditional African storytelling has found an unlikely ally in the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of lockdowns, the Play Africa Children’s Museum in South Africa has put its African Storytelling project online, broadening its audience to include children around the world.”

Young Cubans capture beauty and resilience with photographs of the COVID-19 lockdown

“For almost a month, young Cubans exchanged skills and knowledge about photography. Through social networks and a group on the platform Telegram, they formed a community of around 70 people who taught and learned collectively, while sharing photos and experiences.”

Photo by Josué Corujo

Coronavirus in Africa: Is the fallout worse than the disease?

“It's not just shelter that's been thrown into question because of the pandemic. Food is also becoming scarcer in parts of Africa. The central Sahel region is among the continent's hunger hotspots. More than half of the populations of Mali, Burkina Faso and Nigeria suffers from food-insecurity defined as the lack of regular access to the food they need. In Mali, the trend is getting worse.”

Rio health authorities test for COVID-19 in favelas

“It is part of a larger initiative that is attempting to map out the population with COVID-19 while taking into consideration the particular problems that those who live in favelas face. "They are people who didn't have quarantine, isolation, nothing," explained family doctor Yuri Santos Rosa. According to health authorities, the goal is to test some 20,000 people living in 19 favelas, in and around Rio de Janeiro.”

Podcast: Caribbean economies face ‘the great reset’

“What does recovery from the COVID-19 crisis look like in a Caribbean context? How do we gear future growth and growth indicators towards improving the livelihoods of Caribbean people?”

COVID-19 restrictions release people’s power and finding peace through art

“In Kenya’s largest informal settlement, a group of young artists have turned the streets of Kibera into a message board splattered with grafitti urging residents to maintain hygiene, keep their distance and wear masks. Their resourcefulness has extended to handing out gifts of soap in the neighbourhood.”


NON-CORONAVIRUS NEWS, BUT STILL IMPORTANT

Barbados revives plan to remove Queen as head of state and become a Republic

“Barbados would join Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Guyana if it proceeds with its plan to become a republic. Jamaica has also flagged such a transition, with the recently re-elected prime minister, Andrew Holness, saying he wanted to put the proposal to ‘a grand referendum’.”

Burglars beware: tech pioneers aim to make South Africa's townships safer

“Crime is a fact of life across South Africa. But while richer residents have access to one of the world’s largest private security industries – there are 2.57 security personnel for every police officer – poorer communities like that in eMalahleni, a town that leads the country in house break-ins, are left to fend for themselves. ‘In the townships, you have burglar bars, dogs and lapsed alarm contracts,’ says Ntsako Mgiba, explaining that a couple of big security firms have tried and failed to enter the market.”

Once-in-a-lifetime floods wreak havoc across Africa

“As forest fires turn California’s sky an apocalyptic red, vast swathes of Africa are being submerged by once in a lifetime floods. From Ethiopia and Sudan to Nigeria and Senegal, torrential rains have displaced well over a million people and are threatening already vulnerable food supplies.”