Denise Herd, the associate director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, intervenes in the conversation surrounding vaccine distribution. She emphasizes how racial segregation — both historical and present — has harmed people of color and why segregated communities should be prioritized in receiving care.
Denise Herd: Racial segregation has meant that disadvantaged populations, they are congregated in certain areas. All of the health disparities, they vary by ZIP code. I mean, if you look at a place like Berkeley, there are two ZIP codes with the majority of all the health problems, and these are the same ZIP codes where the majority of the population is Latinx or African American.
So segregation has already paved the way for disadvantage and it should pave the way for who gets prioritized.
I read a story about a Native woman and she talked about seeing the cruise ship where those cases of Covid probably entered the Bay Area. She thought about her ancestors seeing the ships bringing settlers to the continent and how infections disease ravaged the Native population.
Denise Herd: We have people that are calling for let's get to those impacted populations. Support them, vaccinate them first. We need to take into account historical harms as well as the harms of contemporary discrimination and segregation.