Systemic Racism, the Government’s Pandemic Response, and Racial Inequities in COVID-19

56 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2021 Last revised: 20 Sep 2021

See all articles by Ruqaiijah Yearby

Ruqaiijah Yearby

Saint Louis University - School of Law

Seema Mohapatra

SMU Dedman School of Law

Date Written: December 15, 2020

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal and state governments have disregarded racial and ethnic minorities’ unequal access to employment and health care, which has resulted in racial inequities in infections and deaths. In addition, they have enacted laws that further exacerbate these inequities. Consequently, many racial and ethnic minorities are employed in low-wage essential jobs that lack paid sick leave and health insurance. This lack of benefits causes them to go to work even when they are sick and prevents them from receiving appropriate medical treatment. As a result, racial and ethnic minorities have disproportionately been infected and died from COVID-19. Although these actions seem race “neutral,” they exemplify systemic racism, wherein racial and ethnic minorities are deemed inferior to white people, and thus do not receive the same access to resources, such as employment and health care. This Essay illustrates how systemic racism has resulted in racial inequities in COVID-19 infections and deaths through case studies in employment and health care. Using the health justice framework, it concludes with suggestions to eradicate systemic racism, redress harm, and engage communities in implementing an equitable pandemic response.

Suggested Citation

Yearby, Ruqaiijah and Mohapatra, Seema, Systemic Racism, the Government’s Pandemic Response, and Racial Inequities in COVID-19 (December 15, 2020). 70 Emory Law Journal 1419-1473 (2021), Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3763532 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3763532

Ruqaiijah Yearby (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States
314.977.3326 (Phone)

Seema Mohapatra

SMU Dedman School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 750116
Dallas, TX 75275
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
218
Abstract Views
1,812
rank
178,884
PlumX Metrics