Friday, June 5, 2020 | 2 a.m.
In so many ways, the events of the last week have laid bare the injustice that still permeates our society. Black Americans have never had to look far or wait long for it to find us. But for others, the anger on display across the country has made it impossible to look away.
Through rhetoric meant to antagonize and divide the country he’s supposed to lead, Donald Trump has sought to abuse this moment for his own political advantage. It’s a betrayal of his oath of office. It’s profoundly dangerous. And, it’s far from the first injustice he has inflicted on the African American community.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Trump’s refusal to take desperately needed action has left Black communities to bear the brunt of both a public health catastrophe and a cratering economy. Even as Gov. Steve Sisolak works tirelessly to safeguard our health and wellbeing, the Trump administration’s failures are continuing to hurt black Nevadans across the state.
Trump downplayed the threat of the virus, promised it would go away on its own, and refused to get tests and personal protective equipment to severely under-equipped communities. As the pandemic worsened, his administration failed to collect data on who needed the most help — CDC figures released as late as mid-April failed to list race and ethnicity information for 75% of cases.
When NPR conducted its own analysis, it confirmed what we had been witnessing on the ground for months. Black Nevadans are disproportionately contracting and dying from the coronavirus, and in some parts of the country, African Americans are dying at rates three or more times greater than their share of the population.
As his chaotic pandemic response ushered in an economic collapse, Trump again failed to act, leaving black workers, businesses and communities to deal with the devastating consequences.
While Trump funneled millions in relief to his well-connected friends and ultra-wealthy donors — including his own campaign manager — black-owned small businesses scrambled to stay afloat.
Those businesses, often smaller operations with fewer employees, have the most urgent need for emergency relief. Yet, the Trump administration excluded the financial institutions most likely to lend to minority-owned businesses and allowed banks to prioritize loans for large corporations.
And even as the virus threatens our lives, African Americans are also being furloughed and laid off at higher rates than white workers. More than one in six black workers — including nearly 19% of black women — lost their jobs between February and April.
But Trump still wasn’t moved to action. Instead, he delayed relief checks so they could be printed with his signature. In his view, success is defined by the performance of the stock market and the still-growing wealth of a handful of elites. The rest of us are on our own.
For black families, that often means daily anxiety over how to pay rent and keep food on the table. It means putting plans for the future on hold. And it means watching as years of economic progress are squeezed out of our communities.
Donald Trump’s failures will have severe consequences long after the pandemic has passed. In every lost paycheck and in every business that closes its doors, years and decades of hard work are being erased in a matter of weeks and months.
This president’s words are vile and dangerous. His actions have been deadly. And every day he remains in the White House will inflict more harm on the health, lives and future of black families across Nevada.
William McCurdy II is chairman of the Nevada State Democratic Party.