STATEMENT BY REV. JESSE L. JACKSON, SR.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
After 400 years of slavery, segregation and discrimination why would anybody be shocked that African Americans are dying disproportionately from the coronavirus?
The 1968 Kerner Commission Report said that the condition of African Americans was created and sustained by white racism. White racism is the natural result of a philosophy of white superiority. The history of Black people in America everyday is white racism, neglect and discrimination.
The pandemic of white supremacy and black oppression are so prevalent daily that it’s seen as natural and normal.
What people with a history of neglect on the basis of skin color; lynched 5,000 times between 1877 and 1950 with the Federal government turning its back on us with no indictments; denied education and skill training; often living in high density unsafe and unsanitary housing; denied access to capital; unemployed twice the rate of whites; denied capital by banks for economic and business development; redlined and segregated into ghettoes; disproportionately incarcerated because the crime and time don’t correspond; profiled by the police; turned into objects of social vilification and ridicule; the fewest with health insurance; living in highly stressful situations everyday with the most asthma, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart failures, cancer, diabetes, obesity, kidney diseases and stress; who work harder in the most menial and dangerous jobs; are disproportionately poor; 57 percent of us live in the South where Republican governors have rejected the Medicaid portion of the Affordable Care Act; we make less money and work longer hours; we don’t live as long; so why would it be a surprise that 72 percent of us are vulnerable to AIDS, SARS, Ebola or the Coronavirus?
We are disproportionately incarcerated, which are petri dishes for the coronavirus, and those in prison and jails are not being tested. Between health conditions, poverty, misinformation and institutional neglect, the African American condition should not be a surprise to anyone. So when diseases and epidemics come – AIDS, SARS, Ebola or the Coronavirus – we are most susceptible to all of it.
Today our vulnerability to the pandemic of the coronavirus exposes all of these forces of pain and deprivation, with no national mobilization or targeting to stop any of it. People who live under these conditions often can’t honor the protocol. Some of us can do virtual work from our homes, but most can’t. Most of us have jobs that require us to catch the early bus, subways and trains going to and coming from work, and when we get to work we often have to ride up and down escalators and elevators. We can’t easily do 6-feet physical distancing on a crowded bus, subway, train, escalator or elevator.
The current president has failed to adequately mobilize the federal forces necessary to effectively combat the coronavirus, but all past presidents and congresses have failed to mobilize to end the virus of white superiority and fix the multifaceted issues confronting African Americans, and that’s the moral challenge that remains for America.
Rainbow PUSH Coalition is a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international organization that was formed in December 1996 by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. through merging of two organizations he founded Operation PUSH People United to Serve Humanity (estab. 1971) and the Rainbow Coalition (estab. 1984). With headquarters in Chicago and offices in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Oakland, the organization works to make the American Dream a reality for all citizens while advocating for peace and justice around the world. RPC is dedicated to improving the lives of all people by serving as a voice for the voiceless. Its mission is to protect, defend and gain civil rights by leveling the economic and educational playing fields while promoting peace and justice around the world.
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Keep up with Rev. Jackson and the work of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at www.rainbowpush.org.