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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of the new Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center at AU.

Ibram X. Kendi testifies in House hearing on COVID-19’s impact on communities of color

The SIS professor called on politicians to implement ‘antiracist’ policies

Ibram X. Kendi, the founding director of AU’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, testified at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday about the coronavirus pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color.

The hearing focused on the pandemic’s impact on communities of color from historical, medical and economic perspectives.

Kendi was one of six witnesses who participated in the virtual hearing hosted by the House Ways and Means Committee. Kendi, a professor in the School of International Service, worked with the policy center to analyze data on race and the coronavirus.

“As of Monday, black Americans are dying at nearly two times their national population share,” Kendi said in his testimony. 

That's according to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, which tracks states’ virus cases and deaths by race. Kendi helped build the tracker with his colleagues.

Kendi, a contributing writer at The Atlantic, wrote in an April article that Americans should be able to access racial data to see disparities in COVID-19 testing, infection and death rates. 

The data that Kendi collected allowed him to disprove the racist explanation of saying that people of color are impacted disproportionately because they are not taking the virus seriously, he said in his testimony. 

“We should be asking: Why are black and Latino people less likely to be working from home, less likely to be insured, less likely to live in unpolluted neighborhoods?” Kendi said. “The answer is racist policy.”

Policymakers need to rise above the racist explanation, Kendi said, and push for policy that does not blame people of color for disparities, but that leads to “equity and justice for all.”

“People of color want freedom,” Kendi said. “I’m not talking about the freedom to get a haircut. I’m talking about the most fundamental freedoms that have been denied for far too long — the freedom from infection, the freedom from death.”

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