Black Women Rising hosts virtual roundtable on racial disparities among Black women during COVID-19

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Black women have been severely affected by COVID-19, and Black Women Rising…

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Black women have been severely affected by COVID-19, and Black Women Rising is determined to address the issue.

“When you think about the impact of COVID, it’s exacerbated the already existing that we already face as Black women and women of color,” said Marcia Dinkins, executive director of the nonprofit, said during a virtual roundtable Wednesday.

Black Women Rising is dedicated to uplifting the voices of Black women and women of color on issues like healthcare and reproductive health rights and justice. Hundreds listened in and voiced their thoughts while local leaders, elected officials, and Ohio advocates spoke on the impact of COVID-19 on Black women during a virtual roundtable on Wednesday with Sen. Sherrod Brown and Ohio Rep Paula Hicks-Hudson.

“Far too many members of our community have already lost their lives to COVID-19 and are facing economic hardship — unable to pay rent or feed their families — as Black women bear the brunt of these dual crises,” Dinkins said. “We cannot wait any longer. Our elected officials must do their jobs and provide aid without delay to help our community and the millions of working Americans across the country hurting because of their inaction.”

Black women specifically are more likely to deal with job loss and economic disparities because of COVID. They are also disproportionally affected in the health care system. In 2019, more than 7% of Black Women in Ohio were uninsured.

Black Americans make up almost 19% of Ohio’s 132,956 cases of COVID, compared to 14% of the Buckeye state’s population. Discrimination, housing issues, healthcare access/utilization, occupations, and lower-income contribute to increased risk.

Brown said the country understands better today the racial disparities showcased throughout the pandemic. “The pandemic has been the great revealer,” he said.

He says some want to treat coronavirus and racial justice as separate issues, but they are intimately connected. “We know who disproportionally dies of this virus — it’s the same people who are discriminated against and targeted while simply going about their lives driving, jogging down a neighborhood street, playing in the park, and even sleeping in their beds.”

Hicks-Hudson says racial disparities in healthcare aren’t just important right now because of the pandemic, “it’s important because the need for Black women to be in positions of health and strength,” she said. “It’s important folks have the proper information.”

The event also included additional speakers like Bishop Jerome McCorry, Margarida Jorge, Executive Director of Health Care for American Now, and Black women affected by COVID. Dinkins said the goal was to bring awareness and push lawmakers to act.

Several forms of aid, such as the CARES package, that provided relief for small businesses, essential works, and families are now at risk for expiring. She says extending the packages would continue some of those protections and support, especially for women of color who experienced the most significant hardship during the pandemic.