COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma: Reagan

The coronavirus is no “great equalizer.”

(interviewed by Edwin Rios for Mother Jones)

In NYC, Black and Latinx residents are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of whites. In Louisiana, 70 percent of those who have died are Black. In Chicago and Mississippi more than 70 percent of fatalities are African American. The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate. But racism does. BIPOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color) are especially vulnerable to COVID-19–and the least protected from it–because of centuries of structural and institutional inequity. BIPOC, for example, are less likely to be insured, get quality healthcare, or even a coronavirus test. But BIPOC are more likely to be on the frontlines as low-wage essential workers, to live in crowded metropolitan areas, and, because of discrimination, have pre-existing health conditions. Preliminary numbers are starting to show gross and horrifying coronavirus disparities. However the true scope of the disparities remains unknown as many cities and states drag their heels collecting racial/ethnic data. Washington State had the first known US case of COVID-19 back in January but didn’t release any racial demographic data until April 10. Unacceptable. With our leadership so slow to respond, it’s up to us to keep our eyes wide open and call it where we see it. You can help. Please share if you can. Thank you.

I am a strong black woman, but I’m not invincible.
Racism is the pre-existing condition that has made me most vulnerable.
White fear is not now and has never been my priority.
I will do what I need to do to ensure my personal safety.
I am a human being.


Pictured: Reagan Jackson is a multi-genre writer, artist, activist, and international educator with an abiding love of justice, spirituality, and creating community. She is an award-winning journalist who contributes regularly to the Seattle Globalist, South Seattle Emerald, and other local publications. She has written two children’s books and three collections of poetry. Reagan is Program Director at Y-WE (Young Women Empowered) and also co-host of the podcast Deep End Friends which explores race and political issues through the lens of artistic expression and honest conversation. In these photos, Reagan is wearing a mask made for her by Candace Chin, a 70-year-old Chinese woman who has been self-quarantined since March 10. Candace is one of the unsung founders of Y-WE and a seamstress currently making masks and surgical gowns while quarantined.

COVID-19 Safety Not Stigma is a portrait campaign to help combat increased discrimination against People of Color (POC) during COVID-19, raise awareness about the disproportionate impacts of coronavirus on POC communities, and prioritize safety instead of stigma by the public

Safety notes: These photos were taken at safe distance outside using a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens. I wore a mask and sanitized my equipment immediately following. Please remember the CDC recommends at least 6-ft or more of distance from those outside your family cluster..

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