Data Highlights: COVID-19, Systemic Racism, and Immigrant Communities (continued)

March 2021

We launched this website in October 2020, before the fall COVID-19 surge began, when over 817,000 cases had been diagnosed and nearly 16,000 people had lost their lives to the disease statewide. By mid-February, 2021, there were more than 3.4 million cases and nearly 48,000 Californians had died from COVID-19. Though vaccine distribution has begun, its distribution has been uneven and unequal, further confirming that the pandemic continues to devastate communities throughout the country, with its most dire consequences in communities of color.

This virus in some ways has reaffirmed what we already knew, that communities of color persistently face stark social and economic inequities. As we were preparing to launch this site, we saw our communities rise up together, risking their lives in the process, to rally against anti-Black racism and fight for systemic change, only to once again face backlash by these systems that violently retaliate to retain power and control. Our state was battling some of the largest wildfires in California history, threatening hundreds of thousands of residents and putting essential workers including emergency response teams and our large community of farmworkers at risk. As we headed into the 2020 presidential election, we witnessed historic voter turnout that illustrated the strength of grassroots, people of color-led organizing against white supremacy and fascism. We had not yet seen the violent white supremacist insurrection that would come in early 2021, reminding us that the work of rooting out the structural racism inherent in our nation’s history is far from over.

The systems responsible for the over-policing and incarceration of Black communities are the same ones responsible for rounding up and detaining immigrant communities, creating oppressive cycles that translate into irreparable damage for communities of color. Most of our country’s immigrants are people of color and these intersectional identities indicate that we must remain committed to working toward a more racially just and equitable future for all, uplifting and centering those who are the most marginalized at the forefront. As we emerge from this moment in time, what we need are long-term solutions that seek to open opportunities for all, including pathways to naturalization for all immigrants and to work toward dismantling systems that create fear and instability for communities of color.