By Mazi Nwonwu
The impact of coronavirus on African Americans has thrown to the bin the notion that black people have some sort of protection against the virus.
In Chicago and Lousiana more black people are being killed by the virus (at the rate of 3 to 1) than anyone else. And this is despite them not being the majority.
Some people have come out to say that this disparate rate of coronavirus death in the African American community has something to do with centuries of institutionalised marginalisation that they have suffered.
The idea is that this ill treatment is what left their body weakened and prone to the ravages of the virus.
Whatever the case may be, there is a visible enough toll for the community that is much higher than what obtains in other communities at the same location and with the same testing and treatment options.
Anyways, the hope we were clinging unto in Nigeria is that since the government didn’t place those returning from abroad on quarantine (a biggg mistake), that they would do the right thing and isolate themselves.
It was a very simple responsibility.
But this is Nigeria and we just got a clear cut example of how irresponsible middle class and upper class people can be. We call them the elites, because they are mostly university educated and can afford to junket around the world and speak with foreign accents.
Sadly, their exposure and education came to nought as they became, through irresponsible behaviour, the vectors that sentenced Nigeria to whatever deal coronavirus has for us.
Someone will say “don’t blame them”, but why not?
Anyone who was supposed to self-isolate and chose instead to move around has responsibility here, as does the government that refused to quarantine people returning.
The virus gave us a window to do the right thing, we didn’t. We waited, now community transmission is here and it is no longer a story for those who returned from abroad.
Now we are being told to stay home and practice social distancing, again, people are acting like they can see the virus and know who has it, and thus avoid them. Where this invincibility stems from is know only to them and their god that ultimately fails to protect anyone from the virus. Once exposed, you become a carrier that sentences others even if you are asymptomatic.
Irresponsibility is rearing its ugly head again and even people you’d normally consider sane are speaking through farts.
But, let’s go back to what is happening to African Americans.
It should worry us, because if what is happening to them is in their genetic makeup or as a result of marginalisation, then we are not safe because both factors hold here.
More than 90% of the African American community are from West Africa so have the same genetic make as we do.
In terms of marginalisation and lack of ready access to health care, we are top of the world – at least those of us born without a plane ticket in our hands.
People have moved the theory about black African immunity from genetics to our tendency to self medicate and widespread use of malaria and tuberculosis medications.
There is nothing wrong with hoping that we have immunity, but the cleverest thing to do is not catch the virus to find out.
Even though people are surviving, what makes you so sure you will be among those that make it? Is the belief that you are young and teeming with vitality enough reason to be reckless?
In all, the posturing many are doing is wrong and will only hurt us all on the long run.
The worst case scenario is upon us, because we were entrusted with our own responsibility and failed, woefully.