When a scuffle broke out at Carmine’s Restaurant in New York City earlier this month involving some unvaccinated Black customers, there were immediate accusations of racist policies making the rounds. The New York chapter of Black Lives Matter quickly called for a boycott of the eatery and suggested that protests were on the way. But it wasn’t just the specific restaurant that BLM was taking issue with. One of their spokespeople declared that the entire idea of immunity passports and vaccination mandates is racist. I wasn’t sure at that time if the idea had any legs, but this week we learned that one of the BLM cofounders in the Big Apple is still planning to take action. This creates a rather unusual alliance between BLM and some groups that are traditionally seen as being far more conservative.
A co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Greater New York chapter warned of another “uprising,” similar to the George Floyd protests of last year, because of vaccine mandates, reported the Daily Wire.
“We’re putting this city on notice that your mandate will not be another racist, social distance practice. Black people are not going to stand by, or you will see another uprising,” said Chivona Newsome.
“Seventy-two percent of black people in this city from ages 18 to 44 are unvaccinated,” Newsome said during the protest. “So what is going to stop the Gestapo, I mean the NYPD, from rounding up black people, from snatching them off the train, off the bus?”
Here’s some video from the announcement, complete with the threats of coming “George Floyd-style” protests.
Newsome goes on to compare the NYPD to the Gestapo, suggesting that the vaccine passports will be used as an excuse to “round up” Black people, “snatch” them off of trains and buses, and create conditions similar to segregation. Yes, it was quite dramatic to behold.
Ms. Newsome isn’t incorrect when it comes to her figures, however, so we can give her that much. Well over half of New York’s Black residents under the age of 44 are still unvaccinated. Because of that, enforcement of the immunity passport system would produce a disproportionately larger impact on Black residents when measured on a per capita basis. But does that make the policy “racist?”
As I wrote when this first came up, the answer is no, just as it is when it comes to so many other policies that attract these labels. Enforcing the law in low-income, high crime areas of the city produces a disparate number of minority people being arrested. But it’s not because of their skin color. It’s because those are the areas that produce the most crime, largely because of poorer schools, fewer employment opportunities and higher drug and alcohol addiction rates that too frequently accompany poverty.
The higher rates of vaccine hesitancy among Black New Yorkers don’t follow the same pattern. This isn’t a poverty issue. It’s an issue of distrust of the government and they have more than a few examples to validate that distrust. (Just ask anyone about the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.) But the math works out the same in the end. The impacts will be felt more strongly in the communities with the highest rates of resistance to vaccination.