Q&A: Watching racial disparities play out with COVID-19

By Nicholas Garton, The Capital Times

Joshua Wright is the community project coordinator for the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative at the UW Carbone Cancer Center. Wright, who has a bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison in Afro-American Studies, has been at the forefront of helping Madison black men, in particular, learn about their health and identify risk factors and healthy habits.

Wisconsin’s Department of Public Health has released data showing that the coronavirus outbreak is infecting and killing black people at high and disproportionate rates. The Cap Times sat down (virtually, of course) with Wright to talk about issues of health disparities and to hear about his career.

What has it been like living through the coronavirus outbreak, especially as a black man? We see the reports of how disproportionately it’s affecting the black community. What have you been seeing and experiencing? 

The things I am seeing and that are kind of at the forefront of my mind when I’m thinking about issues with the black community are, firstly, the economic piece. Are people able to financially stay afloat and not fall into some dire straits when it comes to what they’ve been doing for employment? And then of course are the pieces that lead to other things like housing security and being able to have food security in this time. Those pieces are very much connected, that I’m seeing reports about. And it’s like, what was the access like for people prior to this pandemic?

Now that those things are heightened as far as how people should be paying attention to their health, what is that? What does it mean for us to be able to go to the doctor and feel like we’re trusting them, that we’re getting the care that is sufficient or going to help us stay healthy, some of the systemic barriers.  Read more …