Twin Pandemics

A conversation about Covid-19 and racism with Philip Alcabes and Harriet Washington

Joshua Windsor/Alamy
Joshua Windsor/Alamy

As we enter month five of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, while many countries around the world slowly ease back into some semblance of normality, it can be difficult not to despair. Infection and death rates are rising, especially in states that rushed to reopen, and now some states that did open too fast are putting restrictions back in place. One of the few lights in the darkness has been Philip Alcabes, whose birds-eye view of the pandemic in essays on our website has paid particular attention to how its effects play out in the unequal society in which we live. His most recent essay, “Bodies and Breath,” connects Covid-19’s disproportionate effect on Black communities to the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter protests. The essay draws on the work of longtime Scholar contributor Harriet Washington, who has won the National Book Critics Circle Award for her writing on racism and medicine. We invited them to join us for a discussion about how public health cannot be divorced from the fractures in society.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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