The racial disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic was the focus of a Saturday evening segment on MSNBC.
“Tribal nations across the United States are facing their most severe crisis in decades — and that’s saying something — as they grapple with the coronavirus pandemic and the economic devastation caused by the shut down of nearly 500 tribally-owned casinos,” MSNBC’s Ali Velshi reported.
“According to the Indian Health Service, Native Americans account for over 6,700 cases of coronavirus in the United States,” he said. “And this all comes as tribes across the nation finally begin to receive some relief from the funding that’s allocated to their communities in the CARES Act — that was passed almost two months ago.”
“This is hard to articulate, because we are talking about Americans who in many cases did not have access to broadband internet, do not have access to running water to wash their hands and now there’s a double whammy, a lot of the income comes from casinos which are closed and the lack of health care is hitting Native Americans harder than it’s hitting the greater population,” he explained.
For analysis, Velshi interviewed storyteller Gyasi Ross, a member of the Blackfeet Nation.
“I would say it’s a triple whammy, because we have the health care disparities — which are the byproduct of hundreds of years of neglect — as well as very, very specific policies that created these disparities within Native communities,” Ross said.
“Number two, you have the economic hit that happened to our communities and that’s something that has — within any community in the hands of a white supremacist, all of these things, whether it’s disease, whether it’s medicine, they become tools of white supremacy,” he continued.
“And so Native people, along with black people, along with Latinx as well as Asian American people have been well within the purview of Donald Trump and his administration’s white supremacy,” Ross explained.
He also noted, “we’ve been criminalized in this white supremacist regime that has taken advantage of this coronavirus pandemic and Native people’s behaviors have been criminalized to the degree that the governor of South Dakota was talking about taking legal action against the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe as well as the Oglala Sioux Tribe for taking action to have checkpoints to make sure that nonnatives and outside people are not bringing diseases, bringing this killer into our communities that is affecting us disparity.”