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Opinion: "COVID-19 Inequities - We Told You So. And, We Were Right”

Medium published a two part series examining health inequalities illustrated by the pandemic response, co-written by Dr. Chandra Ford, founding director of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences

Monday, March 15, 2021

A year ago this month, we at the UCLA Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health rang alarm bells. We warned that stark, devastating inequities were likely to emerge in the COVID-19 pandemic. Failure to take action immediately would render them eminent. Today, we are saddened and angered by all that has happened since then. The inequities materialized as predicted. We believe it is important to say, “We told you so.”

Why? Because to say “we told you so” is to acknowledge that both the problem — the risk of disparities — and potential solutions had been identified. We believe inequities in the COVID-19 pandemic reflect the devaluation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and the routine dismissal of our perspectives.

We at the center are a collective of mostly BIPOC researchers, scholars and health equity advocates who have been treating racism as a public health problem for more than a decade. The ease with which our initial warnings were dismissed epitomizes the routineness with which BIPOC people’s concerns are overlooked in general, as recent stories about maternal mortality among Black women illustrate.