Black Women On The Front Lines Of The Coronavirus

- By
3 of 11

Astin Wangel-Brown is a 34 year-old licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and psychotherapist based out of California.

Black women on the front lines of the coronavirus

Source: Astin Wangel-Brown / Courtesy of Astin Wangel-Brown

MN: As a Black woman working in the mental health field, what were your initial thoughts when you heard about this virus?

AWB: Initially, I thought it sounded quite awful and scary. I remember I went out to celebrate Chinese New Year with friends and quickly realized, celebrations everywhere would be impacted by this growing concern and that folks read as Chinese were not only going to have to worry about staying safe and well, like the rest of us, but that they would also be discriminated against and even held accountable for the spread of this deadly disease. It turned my stomach how quickly we move to de-humanizing people in protection of ourselves. As a woman of color, I am never settled when I see this happen. It’s just ugly and reminds me that racist ideas and behaviors are just under the surface, at the ready when folks feel threatened.

Black woman across disciplines often rely heavily on the security of their work-life to not only sustain themselves but contribute to their families and communities

MN: Are there specific ways in which this affects communities of color mentally because of the prospect of being out of work/unpaid medical leave, or the financial weight sickness can cause?

AWB: My concern is that as Black folks, especially Black women, many of us carry the narrative that there are “no days off,” “we have been through worse,” and “somebody has to do it” and this unfortunately, puts us more at risk.

Unfortunately many working class folks of color who are relying on each paycheck to cover their expenses, are forced to prioritize the multiple risks they are faced with in a situation like COVID-19. Holding the aforementioned narratives in mind, being at risk for missing rent and subsequently, being at risk for homelessness can take precedent over health concerns. This is especially top of mind for me considering with the extraordinary large homeless population here in Los Angeles.

Lastly, as a Black woman in the mental health field the virus triggers my thoughts about my availability to my clients and my business. Having been very ill myself around this time last year and taken away from my practice, I was concerned about the possibility of this happening again leaving clients and household vulnerable.

MN: Are there specific ways in which this affects communities of color mentallybecause of the prospect of being out of work/unpaid medical leave, or the financial weight sickness can cause?

AWB: Unfortunately many working class folks of color who are relying on each paycheck to cover their expenses, are forced to prioritize the multiple risks they are faced with in a situation like COVID-19. Holding the aforementioned narratives in mind, being at risk for missing rent and subsequently, being at risk for homelessness can take precedent over health concerns. This is especially top of mind for me considering with the extraordinary large homeless population here in Los Angeles.

TRENDING ON MADAMENOIRE
Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN