The Structural Inequities Laid Bare by COVID-19: April 10, 2020 Newsletter

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It was only a matter of time. Just a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic rising in our cities, we see a dramatic racial disparity in coronavirus cases and deaths now making the news. In Chicago, for example, black Americans are dying at a rate nearly six times that of white Chicagoans. From Detroit to New Orleans to New York, a similar alarming health disparity is prompting a call-to-action by mayors to step up public-health education and outreach in minority communities. Experts cite the higher incidence of underlying health issues — asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes — in the black community as a reason for the higher death rate. But this is merely the most visible explanation, the top layer of many structural inequities that cut much deeper.

COVID-19 is once again shining a spotlight not only on lack of healthcare access for many black Americans, but on inequities that limit access to healthy food, adequate housing, clean air, and even the ability to work safely from home as the virus spreads. Black and Latino Americans are much more likely than white Americans to be working in the service industry. These essential workers are often the least protected by adequate health insurance and the most in need of support right now.

Although moments of crisis are important catalysts, the pandemic didn’t introduce the problemsThe reality is that the virus is exposing structural flaws in our system that can’t be fixed overnight.

This is exactly the right time to think very differently about what’s needed not just to meet the moment, but to build a new roadmap that ensures a healthier and more equitable society for all in the future. Alluma has been working on this road for the past 20 years, taking a different approach with sustained attention to address an array of barriers, both technological and human, that keep many eligible people from accessing essential services, or lead many to lose services needlessly. See our technology ideas on Designing for Connection.

In this moment, let’s be bold about thinking about what can come next. One way we can make structural changes is by looking for the connections others may miss, as we do in our Linkages Tool. What are other ways we can think differently, and act courageously, to shape our future? Let’s collaborate. Reach out to us at