Excerpt from The Indypendent

The city has begun releasing statistics on race and COVID-19 infections after calls from advocates to do so. They show that black and Latino New Yorkers are disproportionately testing positive for the disease and are dying at double the rate of other racial groups.

In response to the racial disparities, the scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor recently changed the adage “When white America catches a cold, black America gets pneumonia” to “When white America catches novel coronavirus, black Americans die.”

In attempting to explain these disparities, Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged African Americans to “stop drinking, smoking or doing drugs to protect those who are most vulnerable.”  


The hardest stricken areas of New York tell a different story: pre-vulnerabilities to the virus are directly connected to a history of environmental racism and economic inequality.  


Through the spring of 2020, the Human Rights Project ran a seminar for UNIS seniors on how the coronavirus pandemic affected the human rights of New Yorkers. Students conducted research, interviewed experts and created podcasts. 


Here, we feature two podcasts. 


In the first, Illina Bhatia interviews a NYC-based infectious disease doctor who describes her experiences on the frontlines, debunks the myth of the pandemic as the great equalizer and discusses her concern about the politicization of the pandemic. 


In the second, Rocco Gallimbeni and Natasha Guarda interview Fitzroy Christian of Community Alliance for Safe Apartments (CASA) in the Bronx on how the pandemic increases the threat of eviction and threatens the right to housing. 


©2020 by UNIS Human Rights Project