Not just Trump, but the whole US ruling class must pay for the mass Covid death toll among Blacks, because only the ruling class has the power to systematically allocate life-death chances for whole populations over generations.
To limit the indictment to Donald Trump and his administration would be an insult to today’s dead and dying.
The United States finds myriad ways of killing Black people – of negating the term “Black lives matter.” The novel, or new, coronavirus is ending the lives of African Americans at a nationwide rate that is 2.6 times that of whites, 2.3 times the death toll among Asian Americans and 2.2. times that of Latinos, according to the APM Research Lab’s breakdown of mortality by race. Collectively Blacks have suffered 27 percent of all Covid-19 deaths in the United States, which would mean that 24, 930 of the 92, 333 total U.S. deaths from the virus as of this week, were African Americas, who make up only 13 percent of the population.
Researchers at Yale University and the University of Pittsburgh put the proportionate Black death toll considerably higher, with Blacks 3.5 times more likely to die than whites, and Latinos twice as likely to succumb to the virus. The actual ratios of death may never be known since, according to the Yale study, “almost half the states do not track the race and ethnicity of those who have died in the pandemic, and states that are tracking racial and ethnic data do not account for age differences among population groups.
The COVID Racial Data Tracker, a collaboration of The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project and The Antiracist Research & Policy Center,updates the toll by ethnicity on a daily basis, with about a three-day lag in reporting of deaths by state.
If the Yale/Pittsburgh finding that Blacks are 3.5 times more like to die from Covid-19 than whites is correct, then Blacks make up considerably more than 27 percent of deaths. But, even at the lower rate, the carnage in Black America is horrific. If projections of 143,360 total U.S. deaths from coronavirus by August 4 hold true, that would result in a Black death toll of 38,707 – with no end in sight. By comparison, 1,008 people of all races were killed by police gunfire in 2019, according to the Washington Post tally.
What will be the Black political response to such gruesome numbers? Who will be made accountable for a slaughter that was pre-programmed by the very nature of a society birthed in genocide, slavery and the glorification of conquest and plunder?
Just as infant mortality is the best measure of a society’s general health, so does the Covid-19 death toll indict the United States for systematically undermining the life chances of all of its constituent peoples (143,360 dead by August 4), and for the aggravated crime of setting a death trap for African Americans, every aspect of whose lives has been methodically weighted towards early death. These are crimes that only the ruling class can commit, because only the ruling class has the power to systematically allocate life-death chances for whole populations over generations.
The indictment must be initiated by Black America, the most deeply harmed victims of preventable mass death at the hands of a morally depraved white ruling class. The very nature of mass slaughter by Covid-19 demands that the entire system of political economy – of racial capitalism -- in the United States be put on trial, and that the humans that have profited from, bolstered and defended that murderous system be removed from power and punished.
To limit the indictment to Donald Trump and his administration would be an insult to today’s dead and dying, and to all past victims of racial capitalism’s carnage around the world. Every Democrat that has joined with the Lords of Capital in preventing the United States from establishing a universal health care system, is guilty of depraved indifference to the lives of his and her constituents, as is virtually every member of the Republican Party, whose organizing principle is white supremacy, an ideology of mass murder. The U.S. electoral duopoly system has acted as a criminal enterprise, answering to an oligarchy of wealth, with both parties colluding to deny most of the population – and especially Black people – the right to healthy and safe lives and protection from contagious disease, as well as the closely related rights to meaningful and fairly compensated employment, adequate shelter from the elements, and an education that provides the people with the knowledge and skills to shape, and contribute to, society.
It takes a whole class of criminals to create the conditions to kill nearly one hundred thousand people – 27 percent of them Black -- in just three months. However, politicians representing Black America, the most victimized constituency, are co-conspirators in the great crime, both by their collaboration with Democrats that have systematically weakened the U.S. social safety net (most notably, President Obama’s partially consummated Grand Bargain with Republicans), and by their management of Black population centers that have been methodically stripped of defenses against debilitating poverty and disease.
These Black auxiliaries to ruling class criminals put personal profit above the welfare of Black people, and must be indicted along with their masters. The Black political class should have been our antibodies against the plagues of racial, political and economic repression, but made common cause with the oppressor. The Black misleaders must be the first to be indicted, because they weaken our ability to resist the greater evils: the Lords of Capital.
The proof of their culpability lies in cemeteries all across Black America. People’s tribunals must convene to indict the perpetrators of mass death, including the Black collaborators in the lower ranks of capitalist crime. Why were Blacks seven times more likely to die of Covid-19 in Kansas City, than whites? What factors (crimes) made Missouri, Wisconsin and Washington D.C six times as lethal for Blacks as whites, and Michigan five times more deadly for Blacks? How is it that the Grim Reaper came for Black people three times more often than for whites in Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, Oregon and South Carolina? And what should be the penalty for locking up millions of human beings in virus-infested cages without provision for basic hygiene, much less protection from disease. Isn’t every Covid-19 death in prison -- where captives are totally dependent on their captors – a case of murder?
The people must convene, learn the truth, and make their verdicts. The only fitting punishment is overthrow of the criminal racial capitalist regime, whose crimes are multitudinous and manifest. I’ll be asking the organization I co-founded, the Black Is Back Coalition, to initiate Black Covid-19 tribunals in cities across the nation. Activists of all races should do the same.
Black Agenda Report
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.