Or, at least, we have no proof or even evidence as yet that it is structural racism causing the disproportionate number of deaths from coronavirus among the BAME community. What we do have is the observation that the deaths are disproportionate and we’d like to know the reason why. This being something that is to be investigated as yet.
So, why do we have so many people telling us that it is racism so just shut up already? Because they wish to have the answer established before the evidence is in, that’s why.
The latest example being this from a doctor, a real, live, doctor, in The Guardian:
Why is race still a risk factor in the 21st century? Whether it is the merciless killing of George Floyd by police in the US or the brutal detention and deportation of Windrush black British citizens by the Home Office in the UK, the reality for black and minority ethnic people remains the same: racism is a matter of life and death.
As though we needed a reminder, these racial inequalities have been emphasised by the alarming data on Covid-19 hospital cases and death rates among minoritiesin the UK (and the US).
The base observation is true. The cause?
The question of why minorities appear to be at greater risk of dying of Covid-19 is contentious: it is clear that there is some confusion between causes and symptoms. And last week, a long-awaited (and withheld) report by Prof Kevin Fenton, Understanding the Impact of Covid-19 on ethnic minority groups, highlighted a pervasive concern: that the experience of racism, discrimination, stigma, fear and trust among black and ethnic minority communities, including key workers within the NHS, has made them significantly more vulnerable.
So, it’s racism, innit? This being brought to us by:
Dr Zubaida Haque is interim director of the Runnymede Trust
A real doctor, see? So shuduppayourface and get with the program!
Except, except, that Fenton report. One line really stands out:
Genetics were not included in the scope of the review.
Eh? In that there is such a thing as race – the contention here cannot be that fashionable idea that there are no races – then it depends upon genetics. So, genetics is the first place we’d like to go have a look if we find some disease having a disproportionate effect across said races. This is how we find things out like Tay Sachs affecting Ashkenazi, sickle cell West African descents, even it was finding Kaposi’s Sarcoma on young men of non-Mediterranean background that told us AIDS was something different.
We even have a candidate theory out there for our delectation. We know that Vitamin D plays a part in the human immune system, that those with darker skin are likely to have an insufficiency of Vitamin D when living at higher latitudes and …..well, we don’t need more and than that, do we? Sure, we’ve got to investigate this, find out how much, if any, truth there is to it.
Something that hasn’t been done as yet. Public Health England hasn’t even considered the Vitamin D hypothesis as an explanation – that’s explicit in the fact that they’ve not condsidered genetics as yet.
So, this doctor then, where’s she getting her certainty from?
PhD study was a quantitative and qualitative study attempting to explain why Banagledeshi students performed less well than other ethnic minority students at GCSE level in British school. Study included questionnaires compiled from scratch to 3500 pupils, collection of their GCSE and SAT scores and semi-structured interviews with pupils from 3 different schools.
Ah, she’s one of those doctors. You know, the ones who in English politesse don’t call themselves doctor. Being not doctors of medicine but in this case a doctor of grievance studies. How remarkable that her preferred answer should be grievances.
We don’t actually know what is the cause of the disproportionate effect – even affect – across races of the coronavirus. But there’s an awful lot of people with a political motive out there most insistent that it’s structural racism. That motive being the reason we shouldn’t believe them as yet.