A Call to Action on Racial Reconciliation During Covid-19
A Call to Action During COVID-19
Sponsored by the Maryland Episcopal Public Policy Network
[Endorsed and Supported by the Diocese of Maryland Truth and Reconciliation Committee
– currently under review for approval]
Part I - Legislative Remedy for Racial Inequity of Health Outcomes for Covid-19
Why is anyone surprised that Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting communities of color? Doesn't the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and other co-morbidities in the African American community predict it? If we believe we can and should do something about this shameful consequence of the persistence of racism, then now is the time, as civic leaders scramble over the allocation of public health resources.
Because the proportion of African Americans who are contracting Covid-19 is greater than the proportion of African Americans in the total population of Maryland, we should make available, at a minimum, the same fraction of tests available to African American citizens of Maryland.
B. Unemployment Application process
This must be fixed so that C. (below) can be facilitated.
C. Reopening Maryland Strategy
Until the numbers of diagnoses, deaths and hospital admissions of African American Marylanders are following the same curve as white Marylanders, we should not relax the social distancing measures. Period. We open the state according to the timing dictated by the shape of the curve for the most vulnerable folks in the general population.
Part II - Contextual Reparations to African Americans during the pandemic
We are now, yet again, presented with the factual evidence of the persistent sin of racism, and while we should have just believed it because the lived pain of racial oppression has been brought to the church again and again, we have not believed it enough to transform that pain into just reparation. Like the disciple Thomas who could not believe he had encountered the risen Lord unless he put his hands in Jesus' wounds, the church is presented with the wounds in the fabric of community that is the legacy of chattel slavery. Our siblings of color are dying from Covid-19 more often than our white siblings. But we are even more hesitant to believe than Thomas, because at least after he put his finger in the wound in Jesus' side, his eyes were opened.
Do you see that these siblings who are disproportionately carrying the wounds of Covid-19 are carrying the wounds of Christ? What we do to the least-- read that as the most vulnerable-- we do to Christ. We MUST put our solidarity into action by keeping our churches closed in solidarity with the National Action Network’s call to refuse to open black churches for corporate worship until the curve of new infections and deaths due to Covid-19 in the black community has declined sufficiently to make it safe to gather together. The late liberation theologian Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz taught that solidarity is achieved by action, and in this case, the action is to put our behavior where our sentiments express that indeed black lives do matter, enough for us all to do what is necessary to halt the spread of disease and its mortal consequence. This is a desperately needed and immediate step we can take in pursuit of the transformative justice we seek as reparation for the sin of chattel slavery and the ongoing legacy of racism.
1. How can we as The Episcopal Church in Maryland level the unequal health outcomes from Covid-19 and, in fact many health threats we observe as a function of race and level of economic status?
2. Our baptismal covenant demands that we stand with communities that are the most vulnerable to health threats, because it we truly seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving neighbor as self, then we must have equal access to diagnosis and treatment of diseases that threaten the human species.
3. Respect for the dignity of every human being, means creating a community of love where all are truly welcome, not some at the expense of others. Church must be safe for all who enter, and as a faith tradition for which the embodiment of God in human form is a key element of the assurance that God is truly with us, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to ensure that we evolve along with the rapidly evolving environment to ensure that the church presents equal safety for all its members and visitors.
4. We are a group of dedicated Jesus followers who want to make a statement of solidarity with communities of color and communities that struggle for economic stability (recognizing that sometimes these attributes overlap) that is consistent throughout the entire church.
5. We see a potential to transform the unequal access to diagnostic and therapeutic measures that disadvantage communities of color into a system that seeks to recognize that the entire human ecosystem is compromised unless the entire system is resilient to pandemic and systematic health threats.
6. We would like to advocate for:
- Distribution of diagnostic supplies to zip codes that are particular hot spots for Covid-19 in direct proportion to the elevated numbers of cases of Covid-19 found in the minority populations. We appreciate that our governor has identified the disproportionate numbers of diagnoses in minority communities, and we are making this suggestion in support of a solution.
- Health insurance assistance to combat the advance of metabolic syndrome conditions that disproportionately affect communities of color
- Tax advantages that would enable the health of grocery stores as oases in food deserts in MD to increase the health advantages conferred by access to nutritious food.