“I think COVID is culling society,”
For some, the protests erupting in reaction to the deaths of George Floyd and Regis Korchinski-Paquet have been a distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic. But Black health leaders say these two crises are connected by the same deep-rooted ill: anti-Black racism.
Researchers, advocates and racialized communities have long recognized racism as being harmful to human health. But there are now calls from multiple groups to declare anti-Black racism a public health crisis — an effort they say has taken on fresh urgency in the face of COVID and police violence, both of which disproportionately impact Black communities.
“Systemic anti-Black racism is a public health crisis in Canada,” said Dr. Onye Nnorom, a public health specialist with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, and president of the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario. “We are at that point. We are dying and no one is paying attention, whether it’s due to police violence or health-care neglect.”
“We are beyond saying that ‘we understand and we are on your side,’ ” said Safia Ahmed, executive director of the Rexdale Community Health Centre. “I think our communities are really asking for action.”