GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – As coronavirus deaths continue to rise in the US, there’s one trend being seen in many states is that African Americans make up a higher percentage of those who die from the virus.
Many experts say this is a direct result of generational inequalites such as access to affordable health care and healthy food options in the black community, which they say in turn leads to chronic illnesses.
According to the latest numbers released by DHEC, African Americans make up 46 percent of all COVID-19 related deaths in South Carolina, but they make up only 38 percent of all reported cases.
Health experts say the increased likelihood of high blood pressure, asthma, and diabetes make some people in the black community more vulnerable to the virus.
Abel Bartley, Professor of African American & Urban History at Clemson University said discrimination and racism play a key role in further worsening these health disparities.
“You have two things working together. Racism, which is a tremendous strain on the African American community, but then the fact that discrimination also works with it, ” Bartley said.
“African Americans don’t have access to things. We know for a fact that if you can get preventative medicine and if you have access to a proper diet many of the problems will be solved.” Bartley said.
Bartley said these health disparities in the black community are nothing new, in fact they date all the way back to slavery.
While these diseases are seen mainly in older people, according to the CDC more and more younger African Americans are living with these diseases.
Experts say generations of rejection and unwillingness to make healthcare more affordable in the U.S. has made some of these illnesses genetic.
“Sometimes African Americans are born with problems that they inherit from their ancestors who went through the cauldron of slavery. We inherited a lot of diseases and a lot of problems, that no matter good your diet is, no matter how much you exercise those things come to you as a legacy of slavery,” Bartley said.