HAA’s Pastor Smart’s Op-Ed in the Los Angeles Sentinel

In case you missed it, Healthy Air Alliance board member Pastor William D. Smart, Jr. authored a column in the Los Angeles Sentinel published over the weekend. In his op-ed titled, “The Trifecta of Black Disempowerment: Poverty, Pollution, and the Pandemic,” Pastor Smart highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new focus to the connection between air quality and health in minority and low-income communities. He also calls for practical and immediate action to reduce pollution and improve air quality across the board.

Below is a preview of Pastor Smart’s op-ed. Read the full column here.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But what hasn’t been killing us has actually made us weaker.

Last month, I joined a coalition of more than 50 prominent African American community leaders in Los Angeles to issue 55 demands to public officials on the needs of Black men, women, and children in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country’s largest cities released numbers showing the novel coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact on racial minorities. Epidemiologists say this is because my Black and Brown brothers and sisters often live close together in multigenerational households, work in jobs in which we interact closely with others, and have higher rates of asthma, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and other conditions. Officials in Los Angeles County said that Black people alone accounted for 17% of COVID-19 deaths where race was known – yet African-Americans make up only about 9% of the county’s population.

That’s just a fancy way of saying Black and Brown people are getting screwed. Again.

This nexus between health and race was further highlighted when the environment became part of the discourse. Researchers at Harvard University just published a study linking coronavirus deaths and patients with long-term exposure to pollution, especially fine particles. Unsurprisingly, air pollution weakens the immune system.


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