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There is an economic saying: “When America catches a cold, Black America gets pneumonia.” The problem with this saying is that if we use that same correlation and COVID-19 is America catching a cold, there is no definition for what the COVID-19 pandemic will be to Black America.

A recent commentary asked, ‘Where are our Black leaders when we need them?’ The real question is, what does Black leadership look like? For so long, America has viewed African American leadership from a monolithic lens. There was a time when Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X filled that criteria for us, but the world does not work like that today.

Black America today faces wide-scale problems that must be addressed in a number of ways. The nation’s leading civil rights organizations requested an urgent meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer regarding racial equity in the coronavirus response proposal. Marc H. Morial, the president & CEO of the National Urban League; Melanie Campbell, the president & CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable; NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson and Rev.

Al Sharpton, the founder and president of the National Action Network, insisted that coronavirus response legislation must take racial equity into account. The fact is Urban communities of color are likely to suffer the brunt of the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis, and any legislative response must contain targeted relief. The answer was ‘we hear you,’ but no definitive actions were initiated.

Read the entire story in the May/June 2020 issue of ONYX Magazine. Subscribe today.

By Laura Dorsey

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