Hi, my name is Nishad Kosaraju, and the title of my presentation is “The COVID Financial Injustice of Black Communities.” Today I will be talking about the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on black communities in North Carolina. More specifically, I will be talking about how these disproportionate impacts had an unequal financial effect on the black communities in North Carolina. Through extensive secondary research, I have come to the conclusion that there is a financial injustice faced by black communities because of the pandemic, and there are several ways to go about it.
“Money is power,” this is a common and somewhat corrupt saying, but it has some truth to it. In this world, almost everything is assigned a monetary value, making money a very important factor to good living. Housing, food, water, clothes, healthcare, transportation, internet, entertainment, and many other necessities are governed by the value of a dollar. So, to be at a financial crisis, leads to a crisis in almost every aspect of one’s life. Without money, one could still be happy, but they wouldn’t be able to afford the food, water, shelter, or healthcare that they need to survive. When looking at how the black communities in North Carolina were financially impacted, I am unintentionally looking at how every aspect of life of the black communities in North Carolina have been impacted by the pandemic.
In the United States even before the pandemic struck, there was a web of systematic inequalities for minority groups and lack of economic opportunities. “U.S. economy was built on the exploitation and occupational segregation of people of color” (Solomon et al., 2019, 3), which shows how there was inequality deep-rooted within our economy. This deep-rooted inequality continued to show through the pandemic in various forms, such as working disparities. Due to the pandemic, many working-class people were hit hard, and this fact: “people of color remain overrepresented in the lowest-paid agricultural, domestic, and service vocations” (Solomon et al., 2019, 8), makes it even worse for minority groups as a whole but also specifically black communities.
This overrepresentation of minorities in the working class became a big problem for the pandemic. People working these jobs became known as essential workers, and “These jobs put the people who work them at higher risk for contracting the coronavirus” (Munn, 2020, 5). This higher risk of contractibility can lead to a serious financial burden. If the infection is serious enough, it can lead to hefty hospital and immediate care bills. This puts these minority groups at a big risk for financial burden, and black communities makes up a large portion of this group, making them favorable for this financial injustice. Many of these workers fall into what’s known as a coverage gap, meaning, “they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to qualify for financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act” (Munn, 2020, 3). The coverage gap is another financial burden for the black community, as the higher risk of contracting COVID-19 for these groups leads them to have no coverage to assist with the resulting bills. The increased exposure to COVID-19 and coverage gap are both financial inequalities that are faced by the black communities across the United States, meaning also in North Carolina.
When looking more specifically at North Carolina, it can be seen that there is inequality particularly in the Piedmont region. In the Piedmont region, there are many black owned businesses, as well as many white owned businesses, however, there is an inequality between the two. Before the pandemic, “the average business revenue for African Americans is $73,000 compared to $642,000 for Whites, meaning Black business revenue is only 11% of Whites” (Asante-Muhammed & Buell, 2020, 12). Once the pandemic hit, a much larger percentage of the white owned businesses returned to more regular operation when compared to the black owned businesses in the Piedmont region. Despite the revenue gap that already existed, because of the pandemic, black owned businesses faced an unequal return to operation when compared to their white counterparts. The pandemic plus the systematic inequalities has a severe unjust financial effect on the black communities in the Piedmont region of North Carolina.
It has been evidenced by the proportion of black workers in the essential workers group, the coverage gap, the systematic inequalities, and the revenue and return to operation gap, that there is a financial inequality faced by black communities in North Carolina due to the pandemic. This problem does however, come with solutions. One possible solution is to reform the Medicaid bill and the Affordable Care Act in order to eliminate the coverage gap that exists for many essential workers of the black community. Another possible solution is to offer special healthcare for those in the essential worker category, as they have a high exposure risk to COVID-19. With a special pandemic healthcare for these workers, financial bills won’t rack up and everything can be manageable. A third possible solution is to offer a monetary aid to businesses initially closed by the pandemic, so they have a bit more equal opportunity to return to operation.
The financial inequality faced by black communities in North Carolina is an important deal. Our own neighbors and fellow North Carolinians are faced with unjust troubles, and if our own neighbors are receiving injustice, we all need to do something to fix that. The financial insecurities cause by the pandemic can affect every single factor of one’s life, and that is something that needs to be fixed. These financial injustices caused by the pandemic can be applied to more than just black communities in North Carolina, but rather to the minority groups around the world, as this problem is widespread. The solutions proposed earlier can be further researched in order to determine their effect on the financial injustice from the pandemic. These financial injustices may not be clear to everyone, but they do exist, and something can be done about them.
Asante-Muhammed, D., & Buell, J. (2020). Impact of COVID-19: African-American
entrepreneurship in Piedmont, North Carolina. National Community Reinvestment
Munn, W. (2020, April 28). African Americans are contracting and dying from COVID-19 at
higher rates. We know why. North Carolina Justice Center.
Solomon, D., Maxwell, C., & Castro, A. (2019, August 7). Systematic inequality and economic
opportunity. Center for American Progress.
(Google Images, Creative Commons License)