By Avatarby Madelyn Reese
DECEMBER 30, 2020
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, something about the crisis felt familiar to André Chapman.
Chapman, the CEO and founder of the San Jose nonprofit Unity Care, saw widespread misunderstanding of the disease, similar to that of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980s. While AIDS fell out of mainstream news, it continued to wreak havoc among Black Americans for years — with little attention.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40% of people infected with HIV in the United States today are African American, despite making up only 12.7% of the country’s population.
Chapman said he is concerned about similar patterns with COVID-19.
Today, more that 25% of COVID-19 deaths have been among Black Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency says the disproportionate impact is the result of a variety of social factors based in discrimination across health care, housing, income, education, employment and more.
That’s why Chapman and Black organizations across the Bay Area have joined forces to create COVID-19 Black, a project that aims to help educate and protect African Americans through the pandemic.
“We’re struggling with how to deliver a crisis message to a community that already doesn’t trust its government, and not because any fault of their own but because of how the system has oppressed their communities,” Chapman said.
As a result, the mantle of education and protection has been taken up by community leaders and organizations.