Skip to main content

Our Voices on the Virus

Rosemari Mealy

From New York City to New Orleans, from Detroit to Albany, GA – the data, while obscured and not fully available, cannot be refuted: Black folks are dying at higher and unacceptable rates.

During the 1918 Influenza epidemic, mainstream newspapers rarely covered black life. And when they did report, they frequently reinforced racist mythology and stereotypes about black people. It was left for black newspapers to provide African Americans with visibility and a voice for the historical record.

Black women, always caregivers and healers, played a key role in the fight against the 1918 Epidemic. They were also on the frontline as nurses, home aids and hospital workers. They provided mutual aid through neighborhood relief and institutions like the Colored Woman’s Improvement Clubs and the then segregated Red Cross Chapters.

We are unerasing and rewriting the history, but we dare not be erased today in the fight against this pandemic.

We must expose, research and highlight the data and truths that disproportionately visit death and economic disaster on our families and communities.

We will not be erased from the images, valiant work and sacrifices of thousands of Black women who make up the frontline army of health care workers struggling to keep hope alive. They are facing off casualties and threats inflicted by this that can throw them into the ranks of the fatalities.

We invite the visitors of SRPUnerased to join us in storytelling that lifts up women and builds on our mission to unerase our health, our strengths and possibilities.