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Covid’s deadly impact on nonwhites is a rebuke to minority anti-vaxxers

Some celebrities of color are fueling vaccine hesitancy in Black and Latino communities, where Covid deaths are disproportionately high.

Covid-19 has been indiscriminate in its reach. The vast majority of us know someone who has caught it and, perhaps, died from it. But the pandemic’s impact hasn’t been felt equally. Nonwhite communities have suffered most throughout the pandemic, with high death rates and lower-than-average vaccination rates.

Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans had disproportionately high rates of death from Covid-19 last year, according to a study published Tuesday in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Another study, published this month in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that more than 140,000 children in the U.S. have lost a parent or a caregiver to Covid-19. A large majority of those children — 65 percent — belong to “racial and ethnic minorities,” the study found. 

“All of us — especially our children — will feel the serious immediate and long-term impact of this problem for generations to come,” said the study’s lead author, Susan Hillis, a researcher for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. 

Image: A public art installation, "In America: Remember," commemorating Americans who died from Covid-19 in Washington on Sept. 24, 2021.
A public art installation, "In America: Remember," commemorates Americans who died from Covid-19 in Washington.Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images file; MSNBC

It’s not lost on me that these reports on disparate outcomes for nonwhite Covid patients and their families come at a time when Black anti-vaxxers and vaccination skeptics are in focus. And many have bizarrely framed their opposition or hesitancy as a matter of civil rights. The reality is that their baseless claims are most likely contributing to widespread death and the orphaning of children in Black communities.

NBA player Draymond Green — who is vaccinated — recently questioned the idea of vaccination mandates.

“Why are you pressing this so hard?” Green asked at a news conference last week. “You say we live in the land of the free — well, you’re not giving anyone freedom, because you’re making people do something.”

LeBron James — also vaccinated — retweeted the video, adding that he “couldn’t have said it better myself!” But that’s not something to brag about. It’s actually very easy to explain that people get vaccinated to protect their own — and others’ — health.

The mere existence of anti-vaxxers is an affirmation that this group’s rights haven’t been violated.

Green’s teammate Andrew Wiggins, who previously said he wouldn’t get vaccinated, ultimately got the shot to continue playing with the Golden State Warriors. 

“I guess to do certain stuff, to work and all that, I guess you don’t own your body,” Wiggins said this week after he was vaccinated.

ESPN anchor Sage Steele said in an interview last week that vaccination mandates are “sick.” She was suspended over her comments questioning former President Barack Obama’s racial identity in that same interview.

These people and others like them don’t understand that the mere existence of anti-vaxxers is an affirmation that this group’s rights haven’t been violated. The choice to abstain — which is and always has been fundamentally theirs — supports the idea of freedom that they claim has been undermined. I don’t weep a single tear for the liberty they claim to have lost. 

I concern myself with those who have truly suffered during the pandemic: the more than 700,000 people who have died — a large proportion of whom did not have access to Covid vaccines before they fell ill — and all of the tens of thousands of children orphaned by the disease.

Head over to The ReidOut Blog for more.


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