By Greg Rosalsky

May 26, 2020

A mural honoring health care workers at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx is seen on the side of a building in Midtown Manhattan on May 11 in New York.

“Black Americans are approximately 13% of the nation’s population but hold closer to 2.6% of the nation’s wealth,” says William Darity Jr., the Samuel DuBois Cook distinguished professor of public policy, African and African American studies and economics at Duke University.

Darity and his wife, the scholar Kirsten Mullen, recently wrote op-eds in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Newsweek arguing that the COVID-19 crisis in black communities is integrally related to their deficit of wealth. Darity says that, like the higher rate of preexisting conditions such as diabetesasthma and obesity seen in black communities — which is itself linked to poverty — “we argue that you should think about the wealth gap as a preexisting condition that leads to greater susceptibility to the harms of the disease.” Darity and Mullen, who are authors of a new book called From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-first Century, argue that the COVID-19 death rate in black communities further strengthens the case for addressing the racial wealth gap through a reparations program.

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