Former US President Barack Obama has called on Black Americans to “keep marching, keep speaking up, keep voting” as they continue to protest against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States.
“You’ve got communities all across the country, many of them Black and Brown, that were struggling long before the pandemic,” Obama said in an interview with BET.com, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disproportionately impact African Americans.
“Then a virus comes along that impacts members of those communities at a higher rate, and all of a sudden, you’re adding grief and fear on top of all the other emotions folks were already feeling,” he added, acknowledging that it is was tough to feel optimistic following the events of 2020.
Data from US states shows that the coronavirus is wreaking havoc in African American neighborhoods, highlighting disparities in health and inequalities in access to medical care.
African Americans make up just 14.6% of the Illinois’ population, however, the state’s public health agency says black people account for 30% of the state’s cases and about 40% of its coronavirus deaths, showing that African Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19.
Another recent study shows that African American and Hispanic families in the United States have been hit hardest by job losses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The study conducted by the Pew Research Center and released on Tuesday showed that ethnic minorities in the United States are taking the biggest income hit due to the epidemiological crisis and they are less prepared to withstand the economic blow of it.
Police brutality and “other reminders of the legacy of bigotry and unequal treatment” can make anyone wonder “if things will ever get better,” said Obama, the first African American president.
Obama’s statement comes as community leaders in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have called for more accountability for police brutality, more direct action from authorities and police reform.
“We need a real investigation, not any consultations or public relations type of thing,” Michelle Gross, head of Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB) said Wednesday.
This comes after a jury found former officer Derek Chauvin guilty for the killing of African American George Floyd, in Minneapolis last May.
Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Tuesday.