• Project Angel Island

Racism During Pandemics

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

There have been many pandemics throughout history. As society progresses and medical innovations are created, things change. But one thing that doesn’t change is the hatred of one group of people. From the Black Plague to the COVID-19 pandemic, a more prominent pandemic is the underlying racism and hate crimes.

​But what is to blame for racism? The answer is a need for a scapegoat and media. Overrepresentation of a minority with a disease can cause stereotypes and racism.

The Black Plague

Europe’s most deadly and devastating disease, the Black Death of 1347–51, resulted in mass violence: the murder of Catalans in Sicily, and especially the pogroms against Jews, with over a thousand communities down the Rhineland, into Spain and France, and eastward across large swathes of Europe eradicated, their members locked in synagogues or rounded up on river islands and burnt to death – men, women, and children. 


HIV is a racial justice issue, as well as a public health issue. At some point in their lifetimes, an estimated one in 16 black men and one in 32 black women will be diagnosed with HIV. For people of color living with HIV, racial discrimination diminishes the quality of medical care received. Discrimination and socio-economic factors linked to race create additional obstacles to accessing the quality health care, housing, and education necessary for HIV treatment and prevention. The nation is showing insensitivity to ethnic diversity, prevention services, and AIDS services. 


As soon as the first case was confirmed in the United States, mass hysteria broke out. Sixty miles southeast of Dallas, Navarro College, earlier this month denied admission to two Nigerian students, not because they were diagnosed with Ebola but simply because they were from a country stricken by the disease. Also, hate crimes were committed against those who looked like they had Ebola.

Sound Familiar? It seems that the cycle of hate will repeat forever. Most hatred stems from fear and the need to blame a virus on someone or a group of people. Read more about xenophobia during the coronavirus in the previous blog post! 

By Iris Fan

​Co-Founder and Brand Manager

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