May 29, 2020

The Intersection of Racial Violence and the Coronavirus

The Intersection of Racial Violence and the Coronavirus

The word “intersectionality” has always felt academic and jargony to me…until I saw this.

The term largely refers to individuals or groups of a particular race, class, or gender who are subject to overlapping types of discrimination or harm. The photo was taken in Los Angeles this week as protests spread across the country in reaction to the choking death of George Floyd. Floyd died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The timing is notable for two other reasons. The racial killing follows two high profile murders of black citizens. And, it occurred in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 100,000 Americans, with African-Americans dying of the disease at a rate nearly double their percentage of the population.

What makes all of this more sickening–and sickeningly intersectional–is that one of those other killings involved a front line medical worker named Breonna Taylor. Taylor, who was shot by police in her home in Louisville, was also an emergency medical technician providing health care to victims of COVID-19.

Regarding intersectionality, what the photo speaks to are two different viruses that attack the lungs and kill African Americans.

–Michael Shaw

Photo: Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times  Caption: “Please, I can’t breathe,” which Floyd is heard saying in video of a police officer kneeling on his neck. Via slideshow accompanying LA Times article: “Black Lives Matter protesters block freeway in L.A.”

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Michael Shaw
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