the American press and the "two viruses" that strike African-Americans

Protest against police violence in Long Beach, California, May 31.
Protest against police violence in Long Beach, California, May 31. Ashley Landis / AP

Cliff Albright is African American and lives in Atlanta, where he co-founded a collective encouraging members of his community to vote. To the journalist from Washington Post who asked him for his analysis at the end of a weekend of demonstrations against police violence, Sunday May 31, he replied: "People talk about two viruses that of racism and the coronavirus. "

On May 25, the death of a man, George Floyd, during a police check triggered a large-scale protest to denounce the systemic discrimination of African-Americans by the police in the United States -United.

Also read: Coronavirus, in the United States, the heavy toll of African-Americans

But the speed with which the anger of the demonstrators spread in dozens of cities and the scenes of violence noted – at least five people died in a week – lead several American media to highlight two deeper springs to the crisis : the economic and social inequalities suffered by the African-American community, themselves in part at the origin of a much higher mortality of Covid-19 among African-Americans.

Three aggravating factors

As of May 23, in a survey highlighting that black Americans were three times more likely to be hospitalized for a new coronavirus infection than whites and Hispanics, Roni Caryn Rabin, journalist at New york times, mentioned three aggravating factors: “Overcrowded housing, poorer general health on average and limited access to healthcare services. "

"We are unable to see the disproportionate number of African Americans dying in our hospitals, but we can see the isolated case of George Floyd, suffocated on the street", comments Jennifer Senior, in a column published on Sunday, May 31 on the New york times. The editorialist sees the scale of the protest as revealing an old anger, which had gathered among the demonstrators and then sparked by the death of Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis:

"African-Americans – and many white people too – were so furious that they took to the streets to protest, even in the midst of a pandemic, and even when African-Americans were the most threatened by this pandemic. "

Read the update on the situation on Monday: Clashes near the White House, multiplying curfews

"This movement is not only linked to George Floydsums up Yvonne Passmore, a 65-year-old African American woman from Minneapolis, Washington Post. It’s the result of years in which we have been treated as trivial and not just by the police. We do not have access to a proper healthcare system. We do not have access to decent accommodation. There is so much discrimination, and not only in the face of justice. It's a whole. "

Critics of violence

A " all " who ended up "Push people to the limit", illustrates former basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a tribune at Los Angeles Times, May 30. "The black community is used to institutional racism embedded in the school system, justice and the job market, he explains. But the Covid-19 rushed (this discrimination) at home, while we are dying at a significantly higher rate than whites, and we are the first to lose our jobs. "

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In the same text, Abdul-Jabbar asked many critics of the violence observed in the protests to reconsider their judgment in light of the injustices suffered by black people in the United States. "I don't want to see looted shops or even burnt down buildings", he says, but “African-Americans have lived in a burning building for years. (…) What you see from the black protesters is not the same if you live in this building, or if you watch it on TV with a bowl of crisps on your lap. "

The question of understanding or denouncing the passage to violence is also found in the coverage of the riots by The nation, the oldest American weekly newspaper, first published in 1865. "Everyone has a limit to the injustices they can endure before to unleash, writes journalist Elis Mystal. I would never set fire to offices. But I want to. And I understand why some people do it. "

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To understand the motivations of the demonstrators, the conservative media Daily Signal relay the testimonies of various leaders of the African-American community. Sophia Nelson, author, for her part calls for the need to recognize the different experiences between blacks and whites to better discuss them: "It is not good to continue pretending that you do not see our skin color in what we are going throughshe writes. My reality is not yours. That will never happen. But we must open these courageous discussions. "


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