Systemic Racism, the Government’s Pandemic Response, and Racial Inequities in COVID-19

50 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2021 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021

See all articles by Ruqaiijah Yearby

Ruqaiijah Yearby

Saint Louis University - School of Law

Seema Mohapatra

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Abstract

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal and state governments have ignored racial and ethnic minorities’ unequal access to employment and health care that results in racial inequities in COVID-19 infections and deaths. In addition, they have enacted laws that further exacerbate these inequities. Consequently, many racial and ethnic minorities are employed in low-wage essential jobs that lack paid sick leave and health insurance. This lack of benefits causes them to go to work even when they are sick and prevents them from receiving appropriate medical treatment. As a result, racial and ethnic minorities have disproportionately been infected and died from COVID-19. Although these actions seem race “neutral,” they exemplify systemic racism. Racial and ethnic minorities are deemed inferior to white people, and thus they do not receive the same access to resources, such as employment and health care. This essay illustrates how systemic racism has resulted in racial inequities in COVID-19 infections and deaths through case studies in employment and health care. Using the health justice framework, it concludes with suggestions to eradicate systemic racism, redress harm, and engage community in implementing an equitable pandemic response.

Suggested Citation

Yearby, Ruqaiijah and Mohapatra, Seema, Systemic Racism, the Government’s Pandemic Response, and Racial Inequities in COVID-19. Emory Law Journal, Forthcoming 2021, Saint Louis U. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2021-02, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3763532 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3763532

Ruqaiijah Yearby (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States
314.977.3326 (Phone)

Seema Mohapatra

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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