A long-serving black Democratic lawmaker has suggested that if Americans were forced to pay reparations for slavery, then the COVID-19 transmission rate, which has already faded significantly, would be further mitigated.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) railed on the House floor on Thursday that “reparations are curative, they’re not punishment” before citing a peer-reviewed study from Harvard Medical School that ridiculously claimed reparations could have cut COVID transmission among blacks.
“There is no doubt that we have been impacted, the… the DNA in the trans, the trajectory of slavery til today. For example the COVID, black African Americans got COVID at nearly a rate of one and a half times higher than that of white people, or hospitalized at a rate nearly four times higher, three times likely to die. COVID hit us very desperately,” Jackson Lee said.
And like many people who have previously made similar claims, Jackson Lee did not provide any context for the disparate infection and death rates, such as differences in general health between demographic groups.
Interestingly, a recent peer-reviewed study from Harvard medical school suggests that reparations for African Americans could have cut COVID-19 transmission and infection rates both among blacks and the population at large,” she went on.
“Reparations are curative. They’re not punishment. The analysis continued to look at data throughout the nation. And so, as we move in this lame-duck session, it is important that we come together for reconciliation to restoration and provide the commission to study slavery and to develop reparation proposals. I thank my colleagues for their support and I believe together we make America strong, America free, America just, and America equal,” she concluded.
A study is just that, a study; there is no evidence suggesting that COVID specifically targeted persons of color more so than whites or that additional finances for black Americans would have been used to improve lifestyle choices, overall health, and other factors that would have lessened the impact of the virus on the black community.
Nevertheless, “To estimate the impact of structural inequities between Black and white individuals, the researchers set out to capture the effect of reparation payments on the Black-white wealth gap in the state of Louisiana,” the study, published in 2021, said. “Their analysis, published online on Feb. 9 in Social Science & Medicine, suggests that if reparations had been made before the COVID-19 pandemic, transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in the state’s overall population could have been reduced by anywhere from 31 percent to 68 percent.”
“The work was done in collaboration with the Lancet Commission on Reparations and Redistributive Justice,” it continued.
“While there are compelling moral and historical arguments for racial-injustice interventions such as reparations, our study demonstrates that repairing the damage caused by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow racism would have enormous benefits to the entire population of the United States,” senior author Eugene Richardson, assistant professor of global health and social medicine in the Blavatnik Institute at Harvard Medical School, said.
Slavery ended with the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December 1865, after an estimated 700,000 Americans died during a civil war fought, in large part, to end the institution.