Sep 25, 2020
Race in America Series: Racial Capitalism and Related Fundamental Causes of COVID-19 Health Inequities
Whitney N. L. Pirtle, Ph.D.
September 25, 2020, 12:00 noon
Registration required at raceinamerica.link/covid19
Racial Capitalism and Related Fundamental Causes of Covid-19 Health Inequities
Dr. Whitney N. L. Pirtle is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Merced, where she is also affiliated faculty in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and Public Health. She is the recent founder of the Sociology of Health and Equity (SHE) Lab. Her expertise is in race and racism, identity and social categories, health equity, and Black Feminist praxis. She is completing a book on the identity and position of “Coloureds” in Post-Apartheid South Africa and co-editor of forthcoming volume, Black Feminist Sociology: Perspectives and Praxis.
Racial capitalism is the idea that racialized exploitation and capital accumulation are mutually constitutive. Though health sociologists have long explained how socioeconomic status, and later racism, are basic root causes of health disparities, I argue that racism and capitalism together not only structure society, but also structure health inequities. Furthermore, these intersecting systems are exacerbated in the face of additional forms of oppression. Synthesizing early reports and preliminary empirical studies, I demonstrate how multiple, overlapping mechanisms shape the excess deaths in COVID-19 across racial lines. I contend that, as a fundamental cause, the inequities will continue to be replicated unless we can fundamentally change the system.
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