It seems as if the world is waking up to the notion of structural and systematic racism; the world, that is, that has remained in blissful ignorance, and that thinks racism is just the words people say at football matches. The protests caused by the murder of George Floyd have swept the world, as people can empathise with the systematic abuse of people who are black or brown, or simply not white (and not poor).
Yesterday, as I took my peaceful stroll along the promenade in Salthill, Galway, I stopped to chat to an acquaintance. Since the partial easing of the lockdown in Ireland people are taking to the streets again. In Galway, Ireland’s worst city for traffic congestion, this has meant a renewed festival of car driving. The promenade has, on one side, the beach and beautiful Galway Bay, on the other, a permanent stream of cars. Together with the massive increase in plastic pollution – plastic gloves strewn around, takeaway coffee cups etc., increased air and noise pollution, things are slowly returning to normal. This acquaintance chastised me for voicing my displeasure at this renewed effort to murder our environment, given the serious nature of events taking place in the US, as well as covid-19. I replied that all these events are linked.
Jessica Glenza, reporting for The Guardian US:
Black and minority Americans more likely to get Covid-19, House panel hears.
Structural racism has left black and minority populations with inferior health, housing and economic conditions, witnesses said.
Black and minority Americans are more likely to be infected and die from Covid-19, because structural racism has left those populations with inferior health, housing and economic conditions, witnesses told a House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
We can read and hear versions of this story everywhere. Disproportionate numbers of frontline health workers in the UK are from BAME backgrounds.
As for air pollution, Damian Carrington writing in The Guardian UK:
Omission of air pollution from report on Covid-19 and race ‘astonishing’.
Failure to consider dirty air as a factor in higher death toll among ethnic minorities wholly irresponsible, say critics.
The links between the climate crisis and covid-19 are quite obvious. Air pollution affects the lungs, as does covid-19. The links between structural racism and covid are also obvious, as you can read in the above articles quoted.
The time left for us to make a serious impact on carbon emissions is less than 10 years. We cannot see these major events in isolation. The same governments that perpetuate structural racism in order to protect their economic privileges and power, are the same ones who support the destruction of the Amazon, the continued subsidizing of the fossil fuel industries, the industrial meat industries, and the profit-based health systems that have failed so badly in the covid-19 pandemic.
It really is time for major change.