COVID-19 involves much more than a global public health problem; it is a virus that is confronting us with racism, another pandemic that has been causing death and suffering for centuries. This is an aspect that we should reflect on in order to overcome superficial analyses and dissociate ourselves from the treatment of the media, most of which has been dedicated to exploiting the issue from necrophilia and collective panic, in the best Hollywood style.
To begin with, it is important to clarify that the racism that has been revealed in recent months is not a consequence of the epidemic, but rather the reflection of a structural problem that obeys the ideology of racism, which goes beyond a set of prejudices and encompasses a conception of the world, moved by the desire to exercise power through the imposition of a group of people who assume a supposed hereditary superiority over another group of human beings considered inferior because of their physical and cultural characteristics.
Racism emerged in the 18th century, to become a strategy that legitimized conquest, plunder, slavery and colonialism in the Americas, Asia and Africa, later used to entrench and reproduce Western white supremacy. This is how the white man of the West positioned himself at the top of the social scale and placed non-whites, especially Africans, in a condition of inhumanity, turning them into a slave labor force, into bodies that are the object of desire, into merchandise and into everything that can be violated.
The tendency to discriminate, exploit and violate people because of their skin color and/or their place of origin has been reflected in the history of our societies. Capitalism and racism have evolved together, and although from the scientific point of view it was recognized that races do not exist among human beings and thanks to the struggle of various anti-racist movements worldwide, it began to become politically incorrect to exercise openly racist practices.
Racial discrimination continues to be widely used by the reactionary bourgeoisie and continues to develop policies that are detrimental to a sector of the population and aim at the extermination of the “surplus population. Racism and bourgeois nationalism, among which there is a close link, tend to exploit the fear generated by this type of crisis to give free rein to authoritarian, racist and xenophobic practices.
In a hypocritical society such as the capitalist one, the issues that are uncomfortable are usually avoided, however, it is undeniable that racism as an ideology and systematic social practice, is incorporated in everyday life, that is, it is part of the normal functioning of the society in which we are immersed. For this reason, we should not be surprised by the different racist expressions that have appeared since the beginning of this new type of virus in the city of Wuhan, China. For example, discrimination against Asians is not new, it has only been exacerbated by the virus.
In the midst of the health emergency that Europe is going through, the responses in this particular area were not long in coming as a consequence of a historical racism against the gypsy people, Arabs, Muslims, Africans and their descendants. The situation forced various organizations that fight for the rights of migrants and refugees in Spain to declare an anti-racist emergency and to demand, as a matter of urgency, the extraordinary and unconditional regularization of all migrants and refugees in the face of the ravages caused by the COVID-19.
At the same time, neocolonialist approaches, expressed without any modesty on a television channel, emerged from France when two doctors proposed to test COVID-19 vaccines on the African continent, and what is the surprise, if Africa has been the world center of biochemical experiments, the major European and American pharmaceutical companies have managed to test diseases with African people, and then test treatments and vaccines that allow them to obtain large profits, as is the case of HIV, drugs against meningitis, Ebola, among others.
Since the time of colonization, Africans and their descendants have been used to experiment. The origin of modern gynecology is a proof of this: Doctor J. Marion Sims (1840) carried out his trials on black, enslaved women from the cotton plantations in Alabama, USA who did not give their consent and underwent operations without anaesthesia. India, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean have also served as experimental laboratories for years.
In the U.S., evidence has shown that African Americans, Latinos, and migrants are suffering from the new coronavirus pandemic at a faster and more dramatic rate than white communities. Why are we surprised that these people are dying in greater numbers when they have historically been more likely to have health problems due to living conditions and poor access to health care? It couldn’t be otherwise, in the midst of a pandemic like this.
Latin America and the Caribbean have also brought to light the racism that lives in their countries, as shown by the international campaign of solidarity with our Bolivian migrant brothers, victims of the irresponsibility of the fascist and racist Bolivian government. The Afro-descendant and aboriginal peoples of Brazil, Honduras and Colombia denounced the institutional abandonment to which they have been exposed by the public authorities of their countries, by not providing them with the basic foodstuffs and medical supplies necessary in these times of health emergency.
In the Dominican Republic, there is once again evidence of racism towards the Dominican-Haitian migrant population, who do not receive any type of assistance from the central government during the coronavirus emergency period. All of these complaints add to the pre-existing conditions of vulnerability of these populations.
In this sense, the common precariousness of a generalized structural and institutional racism is evident, the COVID-19 has only verified the marked ethnic and class disparity of the countries. We already know that the coronavirus does not discriminate, but it has been demonstrated that its impact is not the same for everyone, and neither will its consequences, political, economic and social.
COVID-19 is much more than a pandemic, it is an erupting volcano that is bringing to the surface all the garbage that the perverse capitalist system has generated, it is exposing the inequalities between countries and people, and this is more terrifying than the virus itself.