At the time of this writing over 400,000 people in Brazil have died of COVID-19. This trend does not seem to be slowing down. As time passes, I am increasingly fearful for friends and acquaintances, as Afro-descendants and indigenous Brazilians are 38 percent more likely to die of COVID-19 than white Brazilians and 32 percent higher than the general population. Negationist attitudes among our current political leadership means that these deaths are being trivialized. On top of this, restrictions do not allow funerals, do not allow humane farewells, the sharing of tears, the necessary rituals of passage.
Brazil, unfortunately, is a country where the Federal Government has endeavored to distort science, deny the pandemic or suggest a cocktail of drugs that are completely ineffective and whose president is the epitome of the most dangerous ignorance. Thus, surviving the pandemic in Brazil has become an uphill battle that we seem to be losing, given the number of cases and deaths.
Maintaining your own sanity is a challenge too when lockdown measures are not being implemented, considering the millions who are unemployed and fighting unemployment, and those who are homeless and unable to access the precarious social protection services that do exist. Luckily, Brazil has started to receive vaccines and vaccinate people, but we need much more. We need real solidarity and empathy, a solidarity that is not just an expression of public policy but a fundamental expression of our true human condition. Maybe then we can overcome denialist attitudes across Brazil. Because between Afro-Brazilians, mostly from poorer communities, solidarity is a lifeline. Where there is no food, cell phone or internet, people share, and so can help each other while we wait for the vaccines. Because although Afro-descendants and indigenous peoples in Brazil have been hardest hit by the pandemic, twice as many white Brazilians have been vaccinated, compared to Afro-Brazilians. This should not happen now and must never happen again. Despite the casualties and painful experiences, I am confident we will get through this, but this must be the last straw. The lessons from this heartbreaking event must help us ensure and protect our lives in the future. #hopetowincovid19 #400thousandpeopledied #rememberus
“The Anti-Racism Policy Journal is happy to partner with Collateral Benefits and Manos Visibles to bring you “Voices of the African Diaspora”, a series of perspectives from Afro-descendants across the world on surviving, overcoming, and transcending COVID-19. Collateral Benefits is a platform that through perspective papers aims to lift up the voices of African and Afro-descendant people from all walks of life so that their intellect, wisdom, and experiences can contribute to and shape the global conversations on the critical issues of our time.”
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