Inclusion & Black Excellence 365 • Normalcy • Recharging Well-being
Showcasing Black Americans: Several media outlets have done an amazing job of showcasing prominent figures and incredible stories of Black Americans in celebration of National Black History Month, including the Washington Post and their new publication The Lily and Standford’s feature of the documentary called “A place at the table: The story of the African American Pioneers of Silicon Valley” by Kathy Cotton. In case you missed our newsletter from last week, also be sure to check out the The Atlantic’s Inheritance Project.
Black excellence 365: Although we’re nearing the end of National Black History Month, we will continue to celebrate Black excellence and share the experiences of Black Americans 365 days a year.
Inclusion Now: The experiences and actions of racial and ethnic minorities — and individuals of all marginalized groups — have an impact on society each and every day. This includes the actions of policymakers such as AOC positively disclosing her experience with trauma to model the healing process for other survivors who may be suffering in silence. In addition to the experiences of Black workers in the US private sector and the work of business owners like Jala Eaton who founded On My Own Financial to place a spotlight on systemic inequalities in economic opportunities and to help minority families build generational wealth.
Accountability: It’s also important to elevate these stories to ensure that we hold decisionmakers accountable for ongoing injustices, such as the greater concentration of power outages in minority neighborhoods in Texas last week and the Aurora police officers who stopped, frisked, and choked 23-year old Elijah McClain who later died from a legal dose of ketamine that was administered by paramedics. McClain is one of countless Black Americans who have died or been harmed by police brutality and our criminal justice system.
Half a million: The US COVID-19 death toll topped 500,000. To put this into perspective, more people died from the coronavirus than soldiers who died in WWII, the Vietnam War, and the Korean war combined.
The extraordinary number of deaths from COVID-19 led to a 1-year decline in life expectancy in the US, decreasing from 78.8 years in 2019 to 77.8 years in 2020. This decline was mostly driven by the deaths of people of color. The expected lifespan of Black Americans fell by nearly 3 years and Hispanic lifespans fell by 2 years, which is more than triple and double, respectively, than the drop in White life expectancy.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel
Normal: The COVID-19 news remains dismal, but according to a piece in The Atlantic, if we can get enough people vaccinated to prevent more mutations of the virus, assuming that the currently identified mutations are not vaccine-resistant, most areas of the US could start to look and feel ‘normal’ starting this summer.
Two questions: Our ability to return to ‘normal,’ depends on both our collective efforts to engage in safe behaviors and the efficacy of the vaccines. There are still two important questions regarding vaccines that scientists are racing to answer. The first is whether the vaccines will protect people from serious illness and the second is whether the vaccines will reduce transmission and subsequent infection. Early studies (like this one) seem promising (including some evidence for preventing transmission and infection) but more research is needed on how protective the vaccines are against the new variants of the virus.
Vaccine hoarding: Scientists are certain about one thing, which is that COVID-19 is unlikely to completely disappear anytime soon. We need to vaccinate a substantial portion of the world’s population to truly achieve herd immunity. Notably, not all scientists believe herd immunity can be achieved. The data on vaccine distribution are not as promising as the studies on efficacy. That’s because of global inequality. Rich countries, which account for 16% of the world’s population, are ‘hoarding vaccines.’ If you don’t believe this is wrong on principle alone, consider the fact that scientists have found evidence showing that dangerous mutations like the ones we’re seeing now are occurring in people who are immunocompromised. This case study of a man with a severe autoimmune disease demonstrates just how scary this is. By allowing the virus to continue spreading in other countries, we are creating opportunities for the virus to mutate and spur another deadly epidemic.
The takeaway is that for life to look (almost) 100% normal again, all of us must do our part to flatten the global curve of COVID-19 transmission.
Maintaining and recharging well-being
While the pandemic news is looking brighter, it can still feel like there’s a lot that we can’t control. To improve well-being, mental health experts recommend focusing on what we can control. After all, health is a choice and there are actions we can take now to improve well-being such as learning about the latest public health recommendations in our area, actively taking steps to unlearn toxic messages from diet culture, connecting with others, and cleaning up our sleeping habits. You can find more tips like these on our blog.
One last thing…
We love hearing about what you all are doing to improve your and others’ well-being. Share your tips and experiences with us to help others on our social media channels or submit a story to our publication!
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