We all know that addictions know no bounds. They can consume people of every color, religion, gender and then some. But data points have shown that certain minority communities may be more at risk for developing a dependency (primarily based on their financial status). And that may hold even more true during COVID-19, as emphasized by the current U.S. surgeon general, Jerome Adams.
Adams, who himself is black, issued a warning to African Americans and other minority communities this month in regards to the pandemic.
“Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs,” he explained during a recent press conference. “And call your friends and family. Check in on your mother; she wants to hear from you right now. And speaking of mothers, we need you to do this, if not for yourself, then for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy. Do it for your Big Mama. Do it for your Pop-Pop. We need you to understand — especially in communities of color, we need you to step up and help stop the spread so that we can protect those who are most vulnerable.”
Adams happens to be on the White House’s coronavirus task force and speaks frequently during their daily briefings. He claimed that the warning came after recently released stats that showed a higher COVID-19 death rate for minorities than white Americans.
Those death rate stats are points that are definitely worth bringing up. In Wisconsin, for example, African Americans make up 25 percent of the state’s population, but account for 75 percent of the confirmed deaths. And tying it back to addiction, data has shown that people with compromised immune systems (often caused by drinking, smoking or consuming substances) are put at a much higher risk of dying from COVID-19.
Nevertheless, Adams did draw some criticism for the way his statement was phrased. Terms like “Big Mama” were deemed insensitive and potentially racist. Following a bit of negative press, he made a point to explain his position.
“We need targeted outreach to the African American community, and I use the language that is used in my family,” he added. “I have a Puerto Rican brother-in-law. I call my granddaddy ‘granddaddy.’ I have relatives who call their grandparents, ‘big momma.’ So that was not meant to be offensive. That is the language that we use, and that I use, and we need to continue to target our outreach to those communities. We need everyone, black, brown, white, whatever color you are, to follow the president’s coronavirus guidelines.”