*(Via LA Times) – I have a confession to make: I’m a little jealous of (California) Gov. Gavin Newsom.
I realized this on Monday as I watched him, dressed in an impeccable blue suit, and scowling and pointing at no one in particular as he laid into the “right-wing echo chamber” and the millions of Americans who have yet to get vaccinated for COVID-19.
“It’s a choice to live with this virus, and with all due respect, you don’t have the choice to go out and drink and drive and put everybody else’s lives at risk,” he declared during a news conference in Alameda County. “That’s the equivalent of this moment with the deadliness and efficiency of the Delta [variant]. You’re putting other people’s, innocent people’s lives at risk.”
I wish I could summon such righteous rage — the same sort I’ve seen from so many vaccinated white people lately as infections and hospitalizations have increased, and as mask mandates have returned.
As someone who got vaccinated as soon as I had the chance, I’m frustrated, too. But when talking to my unvaccinated relatives about COVID-19, I have no choice but to consider the systemic racism that has long pervaded this country, and how it has resulted in deep distrust of the healthcare system, government agencies and most institutions, including legit media organizations.
Newsom can simplistically blame conservative pundits for “profiteering off misinformation” and unvaccinated people for listening to them.
Likewise, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey can apparently wash her hands of the millions of unvaccinated people in her state because they lack “common sense” and “are letting us down” — a statement that earned praise from another white person, President Biden.
I also can’t merely write off fearful Black people as lacking common sense when I know that their personal experience has taught them to be suspicious of authority. Not when I know that, decades after the Tuskegee syphilis study, Black Americans still don’t receive medical care on par with white Americans. Disparities abound in everything from maternal death rates to the treatment of chronic pain.
All of this makes for an uncomfortable place to be as a vaccinated Black person at a time when Black people are both dying of COVID-19 at disproportionate rates and failing to get vaccinated at disproportionate rates, putting them at high risk for contracting the rapidly spreading Delta variant.
Get the rest of this essay by Erika D. Smith at LA Times.