Systemic Racism Is The Elephant In the Room

Brilliant breakdowns of why Black people aren't to blame, more incidents of excessive police force, a nurse-designed mask rivals N95, Indya Moore supports Black trans & queer people in need, 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.

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The Black Plague (SERIOUSLY. READ THIS!)

— By Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, The New Yorker

Public officials lament the way that the coronavirus is engulfing black communities. The question is, what are they prepared to do about it?

An illustration for the @newyorkermag about how the Coronavirus, although affecting all of us, is especially ravaging the African American community. Thanks so much @sebitmin for the fantastic art direction.
April 16, 2020

“In the past month, we have seen that it is possible for local and national governments to act in ways that protect people.

The federal government has suspended interest and collection of federal student-loan payments until September, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has declared a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions of government-insured mortgages. Some cities and states have halted evictions from rental properties, and municipalities across the country have released thousands of people from jails and prisons. Local law enforcement has pledged not to make arrests for misdemeanor offenses. In Detroit, officials pledged to stop turning people’s water off when they can’t pay their bills.

If all of these actions are possible in a national emergency, because we believe that they will mitigate people’s vulnerability to disease and death, then why can’t this always be the standard? After all, when is it ever a good time to turn off someone’s access to potable water? One cannot continue to decry the rising rates of black death while preparing to change not a single thing about our failing political and economic systems.”

Solution Journalism: How People Are Responding to the Pandemic

Local nurse designs mask with 99.5% filtration efficiency

Japhanie Gray and Jennifer Galvan,

UHS said a surge in COVID-19 patients is predicted to happen in May.

“‘We had this AC filter material we purchased from Houston, Texas. We started creating a mask that would fit like an N-95, that would have that whole seal across the face so that if you put it on, you would have a seal similar to the current N-95 we use.’”

Indya Moore on Giving Back to a Trans Community Most in Need During the Pandemic

— by Brooke Bobb, Vogue

“It’s been very overwhelming. A lot of people have responded very generously and given upwards of $1,000. But it’s been heartbreaking too. I get DMs from trans teens who are 15 or 17 asking for funds to support their moms or their families. A lot of trans people are afraid of losing housing or can’t pay their cell-phone bill, which is their only connection to their loved ones.”

[As of this week, Moore has donated almost $20,000 to the trans community.]

Colin Kaepernick Launches Coronavirus Relief Fund To Aid People Of Color

— by Alyssa Curtis, Blavity News

The Know Your Rights Camp has raised more than $137,000 in two days.

“The 32-year-old donated $100,000 to the fund, and the camp has raised an additional $50,000 in two days. Donations to the relief fund will aid in buying and distributing food, providing shelter, purchasing personal protective equipment and helping people who are incarcerated.”

Coronavirus Is Leaving The Homeless Stranded — But One Woman Is Stepping In To Help

— by Lexy Lebsack, Refinery29

“The homeless are not scared of COVID-19,’ Raines says. ‘They’re scared of going hungry or being assaulted or raped now that resources and shelter beds are dwindling. People on Twitter just don't understand that social distancing is a luxury that the homeless don't have.’”

Since covid 19 I haven’t been able to cook for the homeless because of the stores limit on food due to hoarding. Each week this is the payment receipt for McDonald’s. It’s the only bulk food we can get our hands on. 600 people fed!
April 19, 2020



How Millions of Women Became the Most Essential Workers in America

— by Campbell Robertson and Robert Gebeloff, The New York Times

“One in three jobs held by women has been designated as essential.”

“Nonwhite women are more likely to be doing essential jobs than anyone else. The work they do has often been underpaid and undervalued — an unseen labor force that keeps the country running and takes care of those most in need, whether or not there is a pandemic.”

Drawing by Aya Brown
Image consulting with @getherhelp
April 18, 2020

An Overlooked, Possibly Fatal Coronavirus Crisis: A Dire Need for Kidney Dialysis

— by Reed Abelson, Sheri Fink, Nicholas Kulish and Katie Thomas, The New York Times

Ventilators aren’t the only machines in intensive care units that are in short supply. Doctors have been confronting an unexpected rise in patients with failing kidneys.

“Kidney specialists now estimate that 20 percent to 40 percent of I.C.U. patients with the coronavirus suffered kidney failure and needed emergency dialysis, according to Dr. Alan Kliger, a nephrologist at Yale University School of Medicine who is co-chairman of a Covid-19 response team for the American Society of Nephrology.”

*NEWSLETTER NOTE: According to the National Kidney Foundation, Blacks and African Americans suffer from kidney failure at a significantly higher rate than Caucasians — more than 3 times higher — and constitute more than 35% of all patients in the U.S. receiving dialysis for kidney failure, but only represent 13.2% of the overall U.S. population.

Black Miami doctor handcuffed while helping homeless during pandemic

— by Cynthia Silva, NBC News

Situations like this have escalated into black men being shot all across the country,” Dr. Armen Henderson said.

“According to Henderson, the officer asked him what he was doing and if he was littering – Henderson told him he lived there.

‘At some point, he got upset with what I was saying and he handcuffed me […] It was really humiliating.’”

‘I feel like I lost the battle for my husband,’ widow of dead Cook County Jail detainee says

by Andy Grimm, Chicago Sun-Times

Nickolas Lee, 42, was the third detainee to die after contracting COVID-19 at the Cook County Jail.

“Greer-Lee said she didn’t know why her husband’s criminal records and those of the other two detainees who died at the jail have to be mentioned in every news story.

‘That is not even the point, what these men are charged with,” she said. “Yes, my husband made bad choices. A judge was going to take care of all that. Did he deserve to die?’”

COVID-19 hits Columbia’s African-American communities particularly hard

— by Chris Trainor, Free Times

“As of April 14, DHEC was reporting that, despite making up only 27 percent of the population, blacks accounted for 41 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, 56 percent of South Carolina’s coronavirus deaths had been African Americans.”

Black grocery workers feel increasingly vulnerable to coronavirus

— by Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN

"Blacks and Latinos are disproportionately in low-wage jobs. And amongst those are retail. To the extent that that you want workers to shelter in place, the capacity to shelter in place is racially shaped."

Family ravaged by coronavirus begged for tests, hospital care, but was repeatedly denied

— by Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press

“‘Before they even looked at my mother, there was a young Caucasian lady complaining about sushi she got from GrubHub that upset her stomach, and they swooped her in the back like she had coronavirus,’ Keith said.

“But my mom, she had all the symptoms, and they tell her just go home. That makes no sense. ... They helped a girl who ate bad seafood over someone with all the signs of needing medical need help.”

Health Concerns From COVID-19 Much Higher Among Hispanics and Blacks Than Whites

— Pew Research Center

Public divided over who should get ventilators if they are scarce.

“About a quarter of black adults (27%) say they personally know someone who has been hospitalized or died due to having the coronavirus. By comparison, about one-in-ten white (13%) and Hispanic (13%) adults say they know someone who has been so seriously affected by the virus.”

Police Dragged A Man Off A Bus A Day After Philadelphia Said All Riders Have To Wear Masks Due To The Coronavirus

— by Emmanuel Felton, BuzzFeed News

This violent enforcement by the Philadelphia Police is the worst possible response and makes us all less safe.

“In the same thread, the Philly Transit Riders Union shared video of what appeared to be a separate incident showing a SEPTA employee, who is not wearing a face mask himself, demanding that all riders without masks get off the bus. The man is heard telling a rider: ‘You have to get off the bus, man, or I'm going to have the cops take you off, one or other.’”


Pregnant nurse's death adds to concern among health workers

— by Alexandra Topping, The Guardian

Mary Agyeiwaa Agyapong dies of Covid-19 but baby survives as other pregnant NHS staff tell of working on frontline

“Organisations supporting pregnant women have told the Guardian that hundreds of healthcare workers are being told they must work – sometimes without personal protective equipment – even though they fear for their unborn children.”

Funds are being raised via GoFundMe “for her immediate family; her husband, AJ and her baby girl little Mary, who was born at the time of her demise.

‘Like a Prison’: Paris Suburbs Simmer Under Coronavirus Lockdown

— by Adam Nossiter, The New York Times

A combination of cramped quarters, economic stress and accusations of police abuse is inflaming tensions in the poorer districts around the city.

“The approach has left residents vulnerable to both the police and the virus. Paris had 732 virus deaths compared with 402 in Seine-Saint-Denis as of April 8, but the city has half again the population of the suburb, where many of the metropolis’s cashiers, deliverymen, transit workers, nurses and couriers live.”

(Translation: Police violence, again. This time, it happens in Ulis (91), March 24, 2020. In this video, Sofiane, 21, violently arrested by agents of the BAC. Deliverer for Amazon, he left his father's home & went to work.)

Policymakers rush to stave off economic collapse on the African continent

— by Halima Gikandi, Public Radio International (PRI)

The region is projected to experience its first recession in 25 years, according to the World Bank.

“‘The countries that are more dependent on tourism are taking a big hit,’ said César Calderón, a lead economist at the World Bank who co-authored the report. ‘You can think about Botswana or Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa.’

While Africa has some of the fastest-growing economies on the planet, they face unique challenges due to the pandemic.”


Go natural, try a new style or panic? How black women in the coronavirus era deal with their hair

— by Arit John, Los Angeles Times

“Some people are going natural, and where I live — that’s an area where everybody wants to look like Hollywood. So for them to go natural is a lot. ‘Oh, let me take this weave out. Let me take these extensions out. Let me take this wig off and let my hair breathe.’ A lot of people are doing that.”

(Photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash)


Africa does not need saving during this pandemic

In fact, Africa and the Global South can teach the rest some lessons.

— by Robtel Neajai Pailey, Al Jazeera

“Africa and other regions of the Global South have already demonstrated that they are far from passive centres for medical experimentation. Rather, they are the sites of home-grown solutions which should be transmitted globally.”

Stop Blaming Black People for Dying of the Coronavirus

New data from 29 states confirm the extent of the racial disparities.

— by Ibram X. Kendi, The Atlantic

“If black people receive inferior care from hospitals and doctors, are black people to blame? If black people are less likely to be insured, are black people are to blame? If hospitals in majority-black counties are overloaded with coronavirus patients, are black people to blame?”


Are you a Black essential worker? Are you on the front line? Would you like to share your story for a potential feature in the newsletter? Submit your story here:

Not an essential worker? We still want to hear from you! Do you have an interesting story to tell about life during the pandemic? Submit your story here:


We’ve got some first-hand accounts coming up this week, including an essay from a first-time pregnant young woman and insight from a Black woman pharmacy technician: “Imagine telling a diabetes patient they cannot get their insulin right now because it needs refill authorization from the doctor who we have faxed multiple times. It is ridiculous.”

And thank you for the feature, Blavity News: “Newsletter Seeks To Give Black Folks The Coronavirus News Most Pertinent To The Community,” by Jon Greig.

— Stay safe and take care ✊🏿💗

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