Social Justice


During the past few days there have been several reports and commentaries calling attention to what seems to be a disproportionate burden of disease and high death rate affecting African Americans who have contracted SARS-CoV-2 (Ibram X. Kendi, Nidhi Prakash, and others). State Health Departments in Louisiana, Michigan and Illinois have released data showing that African Americans account for a disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths in each of theses states (between 40 and 72 percent). In Chicago “72% of the city’s deaths have been among black Chicagoans, though black Chicagoans make up just 30% of the city’s population.” (, Press Release, 4/6/2020) This past Tuesday, two prominent figures in the U.S. COVID-19 response also addressed this issue by stating that vulnerable populations bear the brunt of the burden of disease, a reality that people working in healthcare, public health and social justice activism have known for a long time. Dr. Anthony Fauci, member of the White House coronavirus task force, stated during the White House briefing that “existing health disparities have made the outbreak worse for the African American community.” Also on Tuesday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams poignantly disclosed during a T.V. interview that he has heart,
high blood pressure, asthma and pre-diabetes health conditions, stating “I represent the legacy of growing up poor and black in America.” (CBS This Morning, 4/7/2020)

Published in Anthropological Responses to Health Emergencies

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Author: Claudia E. Ordóñez April 2020

Anthropologist and Interculturalist Claudia Ordóñez has 15 years of ethnographic and qualitative research experience and a decade of experience with medical anthropology applied to HIV research.  She is currently adjunct faculty at the Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, U.S.A.Her research work in South Africa has included identification of prevalence of and risk factors for virologic failure and HIV drug resistance and the intersection of Traditional African medicine and Western medicine in the setting of HIV treatment. Over the years she has built strong collaborative relationships with South African colleagues and developed a deep understanding of the South African cultural and health system contexts. In the U.S. her research work has dealt with traditional gender expressions, acculturation and HIV acquisition risk behaviors in young Latinos in the U.S.; intercultural proficiency in the healthcare system (HIV setting); and the trans-disciplinary collaboration between social and bio-medical sciences.    In summary, Claudia's work focuses on interdisciplinary research projects among HIV populations in the context of public health systems. Additionally, her Intercultural Relations expertise has complemented her medical anthropology research work as well as her interest in Transdisciplinary research collaboration in the health sciences. 
(CNN) - That thing we've all been doing by staying home, avoiding large gatherings and maintaining at least six feet of distance from others?
The World Health Organization and other health experts would prefer if we stopped calling the practice "social distancing."
Instead, they're opting for the term "physical distancing."
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