COVID-19: African Americans & Health Disparities

Virtual Television Series

The How, and Why, of the COVID-19 Crisis

Why does COVID-19 impact the Black community with such force here in the United States? This virtual series, produced by Detroit Public Television in association with AARP of Michigan, digs into the how and why of the situation to answer that question.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, one thing has become abundantly clear: the coronavirus impacts the African American community at a disproportionate rate when compared with other populations.

To help make sense of why this continues to be the case, The Wright has partnered with Detroit Public Television to present a new virtual series (sponsored, in part, by our friends at AARP Michigan) about the historical, political, and social factors intensifying the impact of this virus on America's Black population.

Want trustworthy, unvarnished information about the effect of this pandemic, and where we go from here? Watch COVID-19: African Americans & Health Disparities today.

Part 1: Environmental Racism Goes Viral

Keynote Speaker - Harriet A. Washington

Famed author of the blockbuster Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, Harriet A. Washington is a science writer, editor and ethicist who is also the author of the forthcoming book, Carte Blanche: The Erosion of Informed Consent in Medicine (2020, Columbia Global Reports); and A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind.

She has been the 2015-2016 Miriam Shearing Fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute, a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, Visiting Fellow at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, a visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University. She has also held fellowships at Stanford University, teaches bioethics at Columbia University and in 2016 was elected a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. Washington was also the recipient of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 2017 “Women of Vision” Award.

Discussion Moderator - James Brown, MD

Dr. James Brown, a native of Detroit who resides in Flint, Michigan, the city poisoned by the State and suffering from genocidal water shut-offs, has practiced medicine for 20 years and has been in clinical leadership as a Medical Director for 14 years and is Board Certified in Family Medicine.

He is currently owner of James Brown, MD PLC and the Medical Director at Health Collectors LLC and previously was the Medical Director at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Warren County, Kentucky. He is increasingly treating COVID-19 patients. Dr. Brown also is the creator of the ArborLune™, a unique musical stringed instrument and a musician who performs with bands and his wife, Semaj, poet-laureate of Flint, Michigan.

Part 2: The State of Georgia & Genocide

Keynote Speaker - Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, PhD

In this virtual discussion, titled "The State of Georgia & Genocide," Dr. Cha-Jua provides a hard-hitting and thorough analysis of the racial disparities related to COVID-19.

He explains the grossly disproportionate impact of COVID-19 infections and deaths among African Americans while highlighting the social conditions of anti-Black racial oppression that make African Americans especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

Dr. Cha-Jua highlights the leading role the state of Georgia played in lifting safety restrictions, targeting businesses where African Americans gather, and the relationship between the coronavirus spread, white terrorism, and Black resistance.

Part 3: Mental Health Challenges & Solutions

Keynote Speaker - Michele Reid, MD

Dr. Reid, who attended Detroit Public Schools (DPS), received her undergraduate and medical education at Fisk University and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. After completing her psychiatric residency at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, she served as Medical Director at Northeast Guidance Center and then as Medical Director at the Detroit – Wayne County Community Mental Health Agency. Currently, she is the Chief Medical Officer at CNS Healthcare, a $24 plus million-outpatient mental health provider, serving over 7,500 children, adolescents, adults and older adults with mental disorders including substance use disorders and a Clinical Assistant Professor at Wayne State University, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. Dr. Reid is also the Vice-President of the Board of Directors at Northeast Integrated Health and Trustee-at-Large for the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Keynote Speaker - Curtis Oliver Longs, MD

Dr. Longs is Board Certified in Adult and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Longs provides treatment of behavioral and psychiatric disorders in adults, adolescents and private practice at Behavioral Health Initiatives, LLC. He is the Mental Health Director and Psychiatrist at the Wayne County Juvenile Detention Facility in Detroit and provides psychiatric treatment for adult, adolescent and children at the Northeast Guidance Center-CMH Agency in Detroit. In addition, Dr. Longs provides medication management as well as psychopharmacological education for children, teens, adults and geriatric patients to the community. He also serves as a preceptor of psychiatry residents from Michigan State University and Wayne County Mental Health Authority.

Discussion Moderator - James Brown, MD

Dr. James Brown, a native of Detroit who resides in Flint, Michigan, the city poisoned by the State and suffering from genocidal water shut-offs, has practiced medicine for 20 years and has been in clinical leadership as a Medical Director for 14 years and is Board Certified in Family Medicine.

He is currently owner of James Brown, MD PLC and the Medical Director at Health Collectors LLC and previously was the Medical Director at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Warren County, Kentucky. He is increasingly treating COVID-19 patients. Dr. Brown also is the creator of the ArborLune™, a unique musical stringed instrument and a musician who performs with bands and his wife, Semaj, poet-laureate of Flint, Michigan.

Part 4: the History of African Americans & Pandemics + Reflections of a COVID-19 Survivor

Keynote Speaker - Jamon Jordan

Historian Jamon Jordan opens this insightful and powerful talk with the following statements: “From 1492-1502, Christopher Columbus (Columbus was Italian, and his real name in Northern Italy was Cristoffa Corombo, while in the rest of Italy he would’ve been Cristoforo Colombo) made four voyages to the Caribbean. Along with bringing Catholicism, he also brought European conquest and slavery. But, that ain’t it! The Spanish, who sent Columbus to the 'Indies,' and were the overwhelming majority of those who came with Columbus on his four voyages, brought at least thirty diseases from Europe that the Carib, Arawak, Taino and other indigenous people of the Caribbean had no immunity against.”

Discussion Moderator - James Brown, MD

Dr. James Brown, a native of Detroit who resides in Flint, Michigan, the city poisoned by the State and suffering from genocidal water shut-offs, has practiced medicine for 20 years and has been in clinical leadership as a Medical Director for 14 years and is Board Certified in Family Medicine.

He is currently owner of James Brown, MD PLC and the Medical Director at Health Collectors LLC and previously was the Medical Director at the Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic in Warren County, Kentucky. He is increasingly treating COVID-19 patients. Dr. Brown also is the creator of the ArborLune™, a unique musical stringed instrument and a musician who performs with bands and his wife, Semaj, poet-laureate of Flint, Michigan.

Part 5: COVID-19: Mass Surveillance & Facial Recognition - Technologies of Oppression

Join us for Part 5 on Sept. 26 at 7 pm

For the final installment of this series, held in tribute to Michigan State Representative Isaac Robinson, a virtual panel discusses mass surveillance and facial recognition as technologies of oppression.

Sponsored by Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, in partnership with Detroit Community Technology Project & The Boggs Center.

Panelists
  • Eric Williams, JD - Detroit Justice Center, Equity Attorney, “Project Greenlight” Expert
  • Clare Garvie, JD - Senior Associate, Georgetown University Law, Center on Privacy and Technology
  • Shea Howell, PhD - Founding member & board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership
Discussion Moderator - Tawana Petty, Director of the Data Justice Program for Detroit Community Technology Project

Tawana is a mother, social justice organizer, youth advocate, poet and author. She is intricately involved in water rights advocacy, data and digital privacy education, and racial justice and equity work. She is Director of the Data Justice Program for the Detroit Community Technology Project (DCTP) and co-leads Our Data Bodies (ODB), a five-person team concerned about the ways our communities’ digital information is collected, stored, and shared by government and corporations. Tawana is a convening member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition (DDJC) on behalf of DCTP, which organizes Data DiscoTechs (discovering technology) fairs and other initiatives to foster media and digital literacy. She recently co-produced with ODB, the Digital Defense Playbook, a workbook of popular education activities and tools for data justice and data access for equity, as well as the report, A Critical Summary of Detroit’s Project Green Light and Its Greater Context, on Detroit’s Project Green Light surveillance program. Tawana is a co-founder of Riverwise Magazine, a quarterly magazine which lifts up community stories by Detroit residents, which might otherwise be misrepresented or underrepresented in local and national media. Riverwise Magazine recently produced a special surveillance issue, Detroiters Want to Be Seen, Not Watched.

She is a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership (Boggs Center), a Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) Fellow, and the organizer of an annual art festival and artist retreat in historic Idlewild, Michigan, which convenes over 30 artists, organizers, herbalists and innovators each year to create art, share healing practices and respirit each other and the communities they serve.

Tawana is the recipient of several awards, including the Spirit of Detroit Award, the Woman of Substance Award, Women Creating Caring Communities Award, Detroit Awesome Award, University of Michigan Black Law Student Association’s Justice Honoree Award, was recognized as one of Who’s Who in Black Detroit in 2013 and 2015, the Wayne State Center for Peace and Conflict Studies’ Peacemaker Award, and a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition in 2018.