BLACK DEATH

Part 5
Our Commitment

West Angeles Family and beyond,

As of Sunday, nearly 1.4 million Americans have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19. So far, over 80,000 Americans have died due to the virus or complications relating to the virus. 

Worldwide, there are over 4 million confirmed cases, and just over 280,000 have succumbed to the virus. 

In the United States, no community has been struck harder by the virus than the black community, even though African Americans only make up 12 percent of the population. 

A number of reasons as to why the black community has been so negatively affected have been discussed. The main reasons have been the underlying health issues that consistently haunt the black community, as well as racism in America, putting African Americans at a disadvantage in terms of housing, healthcare, and access to healthy foods and environments. 

There is also a long-standing mistrust of the government within the black community, and the media is prone to blaming African Americans for their own struggles in society. 

Let’s discuss these issues candidly. 

Diabetes, asthma, hypertension and obesity are four health concerns that affect all parts of the black population. 

Just like all Americans, it is important that black Americans pay close attention to their diets. Salty and sugary foods contribute greatly to the conditions that continue to plague the black community and Americans as a whole. Daily exercise is critical in keeping our hearts and minds healthy. 

There are ways to overcome these conditions, and it requires us to take control of our diet as much as possible. West Angeles Church will continue to provide as many resources as possible at every turn.

At times, there are economic barriers that stand in the way of accessing healthy food items, let alone affording them. West Angeles will continue to provide information on the best ways to access and afford nutritious options, even if it requires growing it ourselves. 

Racism in America, as we all know, is not something that can be washed away in a day. We’ve had a black president and still, racism persists. The unfortunate truth is that our country was built on the back of racism and slavery, and to this day, the black community faces different forms of oppression, including housing discrimination, mass incarceration and more. 

Racism is a learned behavior. It is not innate. There is no vaccine. No natural cure. It requires those that practice it to recognize its evil effects. It requires education. It requires collaboration. It requires those in leadership positions to tackle the issue aggressively and without fear of repercussions. 

However, what we can do is continue to support each other. We can promote education to our young men and women. We can support black-owned businesses. We can invest in ourselves and the success of those that have traversed our path.

West Angeles will soon put together a list of black-owned businesses in Los Angeles which the black community can support. 

The black community’s lack of trust in the government dates back decades upon decades. And it may never go away. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, and then reelected in 2012, history was made.

But his successor has somewhat successfully undone much of the groundwork that was laid by Obama over the course of his 8-year presidency.

One way that the black community can potentially build trust in the government is by voting – specifically, voting for the candidates we feel best represent black interests.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016, the black voter turnout rate dropped for the first time in 20 years and by a record margin. In 2012, 66.6 percent of black voters showed up to the polls. In 2016, only 59.6 percent of black voters cast a ballot in the presidential election.

To be clear, 765,000 less black people voted in 2016. In 2012, with Obama running for president, the black voter turnout rate was higher than that of whites for the first time in American history, proving that we have the power to make our voices heard at the ballot box and make a difference. 

Obama will never be on the ballot again, but we absolutely have to vote: in presidential elections all the way down to local elections. The more we vote, the more those running for office value our wants and needs.

There are barriers that face the black community when it comes to voter registration, transportation to the polls and more. West Angeles Church will provide guidance on how to vote early and efficiently with the November election on the horizon.

Lastly, with the black image under assault in the media, the black community has to be careful not to buy into the idea that it is entirely responsible for its own struggles. 

Our underlying health concerns are not attributed entirely to our eating habits. Our lack of access to healthcare is not because we refuse to work. Our lack of trust in the government is not paranoia. The undoing of our image is not attributed solely to our actions.

However, while America might not be concerned with our well-being, we can take steps forward by concerning ourselves with our well-being first. 

We hope that the BLACK DEATH Series has been enlightening and useful for our readers, as our country and our world navigates this pandemic into the future. We will overcome COVID-19, but life will look differently on the other side. 

If there is one silver lining that has come from this pandemic, we hope it’s that Americans are more aware of the plight of the black America than ever before.

And we hope that awareness leads to action.