What would you do if you were were in fear of deportation and low on cash? Stay hidden and create some way to ward off the virus.
The bold ones (entrepreneurs) are working, they go to their small businesses and keep doing business among themselves to the extent possible. The essential services like hospitals (food service, cleaning laundry etc.) and critical infrastructure jobs; garbage collection, food warehousing, and all those behind the scene jobs that have long been taken over by immigrants…are the mainstay of the running of what is left of the economy.
So why is the reported rate so high? As high as the Nassau county assessed Coronavirus cases, the spread of coronavirus is probably twice and three times as high as the reported cases. Why because the fear of deportation hangs over my head and low paid workers live week to week and some cases day by day. Drive by any Home Depot and you will see men lined up for day jobs, willing to do any type of building or construction job. Often it is the contractors who don’t want to pay payroll taxes and other options seek these people out. This is the very reason why we need a transparent immigration system and should change the rules to allow people to participate openly until their status is settled. Not by locking them up in detention centers. The spread is like wild fire in these facilities. the answer is to put some type of electronic surveillance on them and allow them to be part of the society until their case is brought before immigration authorities.
The impact would be immediate, and the rapacious activity that surrounds illegal immigrants would be reduced and the need for a broader social net to prevent the spread of disease will ensure the safety of us all. Our short sighted approach leaves us with few options other than to capture and incarcerate people until authorities see their case. How much money is being pump into the detention centers, which is a poor use of our tax dollars. How much does it cost to empower a whole department and maintenance of ICE? Originally this policing action was to thwart terrorists from entering the country, but economic and human rights refugees are another matter.
As for African Americans it is very obvious why the rate is so high; first the distrust of the medical system has been a mainstay among African Americans. The comorbidity that is very high in this community is a direct result of this distrust.
Most patients don't want to take medication for disease but want alternative option; prevention and natural approach is more appealing. Secondly, the lack of economic mobility has been a current running through this community for centuries. See the redlining of black neighborhoods as outLINE in the writing of Ta Nehesi Coates, Michelle Alexander, among others.
What does this portend for a pandemic? We use to say" the last hired and first fired", or "when the white community sneezes we catch a cold". These are just short hand ways of saying that discrimination is a fact of life. Poor schools, lack of meaningful economic employment, most hospitals adjacent have closed, the few that remain are poorly upkeep and offer sub par services.
Is it any wonder that African Americans are part of tip of the iceberg of unreported cases. Many of my patients are seeking alternative medical approaches to health, a factoid; “African Americans are the fastest growing demographic among vegans” reported by Washington post and Pew research centers. Why is this? Back in the 70’s late Dick Gregory wrote a vegan cook book titled; “Dick Gregory’s Natural Diet for Folks Who Eat: Cookie with Mother Nature”, and the spread of Alternative lifestyles.
There is a very strong thread running throughout the African American communities for self sufficiency and the children of the migration north grew up with families producing a good portion of their own food in the south. They used herbal African traditional medicine inspired remedies. This tradition still resonates among black folks today. During that period, the distrust of white people and their institutions, and rightfully so, developed this idea of seeking out black doctors and practitioners.
The rate is high but the real reason is often missed, not just poor but lack of trust of institutions and people who created and run those institutions have and will probably be part of the reason why Black and Brown people are taking matters into their own hands. This time however, the results are disastrous.
by Dumisani Kambi-Shamba-Shamba, LAc.