Note: This is not the opinion of a singular black student at Pitt, but rather a statement on behalf of the Black Action Society and the Black Student community.
Prior to COVID-19, we found ourselves facing a war in which only our lives were threatened. On a daily basis we are confronted with the thought of whether or not today will be the day — the day we get a call saying that one of our own has lost their life to police brutality, one of our own did not return home after a long day on the job, one of our own has been found dead while out for a jog around the neighborhood.
We live in the shadows of our own survival, hiding from the terrible outcomes that meet us everytime we step foot into the world. We are done falling victim to death at the hands of our oppressors. Hands that always seem to walk away unpunished. We, the Black Action Society, stand in solidarity with the families of the Ahmaud Arberys, Breonna Taylors, Dreasjon Reeds, George Floyds and the many black lives in our community who have been unjustly killed due to the color of their skin.
Unfortunately, we now find ourselves at war with an even greater system singularly led by the human being responsible for ensuring the safety and protection of all American citizens, the president of the United States. The president’s failure to prepare and protect our nation from a national pandemic has reaped severe consequences in black communities. Black people make up 13.4% of this nation’s population. In addition, while black people constitute a disproportionate share of residents in about 22% of U.S. counties, they account for more than half of our nation’s COVID-19 cases and more than 50% of deaths, according to the Foundation for AIDS Research. In Pittsburgh alone, there are several predominantly black neighborhoods that are at higher risk of contracting the virus due to preexisting health conditions and a lack of resources. This same phenomenon exists across several other cities that consist of neighborhoods with large amounts of black citizens.
As Pitt students and members of the Pittsburgh community, it is our duty to advocate for the wants and needs of those often unheard. It is at times like this that we as a people must band together and fight for the betterment of our people. This includes an increase in testing in black communities across Allegheny County and other predominantly black counties across the country, a focus study that surrounds the impacts of the coronavirus on black communities as well as increased support and medical resources in these areas. In addition, we stand in solidarity with those who take to the streets to speak out against the slayings of our black brothers and sisters. We stand with those who fight against our oppressors at the forefront as well as in spirit. We stand with all those who stand with us.
As members of the black community, the black race, we say, We Are Done Dying.
Morgan Ottley is a rising senior neuroscience major and the president of Black Action Society.