Ethnic disparities are felt in nonprofit sector
As the cofounder of a fund that supports Latino nonprofit organizations in Greater Boston, I am familiar with the realities presented in “Blacks, Latinos appear to bear virus’s brunt” (Page A1, April 8). Across the world, and here in Boston, we have seen that COVID-19 does not discriminate on the basis of race or income. However, with the limitations of the US health care system, the impacts of COVID-19 will be more severe in many Black and Latino communities.
Many people of color are employed in the food, travel, leisure, and hospitality industries, where they cannot work remotely, pay is low, and access to paid sick leave is minimal. The closure of nonessential businesses has caused reduced work hours and sudden layoffs, making it difficult for workers to meet basic expenses, while others, in essential but low-paying jobs, face the dangers of exposure daily.
The same disparities can be seen in the nonprofit organizations that support these communities of color. Minority-led and minority-serving nonprofits historically lag their white-led counterparts in financial support in times of crisis. Today, less than 2 cents out of every philanthropic dollar is directed to Latino-based organizations. In addition, few minority-based nonprofits have access to philanthropic social networks that can connect them with major donors, further compromising their ability to deliver and expand services in response to the pandemic.
The fund I cochair is addressing these inequities by providing rapid-release funds to Boston-area Latino nonprofits that are supporting our most vulnerable populations, such as low-wage workers, immigrants, and children and youth. We hope our efforts, and articles like yours, underscore the importance of supporting minority-based organizations and following their leadership to effectively serve these communities during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
The writer is cochair of the Latino Legacy Fund at the Boston Foundation.
Workplace data would tell us a lot
The article “State’s first data on race, ethnicity covers fewer than a third of victims” (Metro, April 9), about the state’s inadequate collection of race and ethnicity data in the COVID-19 pandemic, reveals another shortcoming. We suspect that housing density, reduced access to health care, and poverty contribute to the disproportionate burden of illness on communities of color. The role of work must be addressed. We may be putting an extra burden of illness onto individuals because of their jobs.
It is necessary to collect information about people’s jobs, the industries in which they work, and their employers. How else will we know whether essential workers are really treated as essential to the rest of us? Let’s figure out how effective sneeze guards, masks, gloves, and restricted occupancy really are in stores. Let’s evaluate whether our businesses protect our essential employees.
It’s not too late to get a lot better at collecting information
Tracing contacts now may or may not help flatten the curve of our current wave, because the caseload is already overwhelming. But at some point, the number of cases will drop, our medical system will start to recover, and we will ease up on physical distancing. Then a second wave will arrive.
In the April 2 Metro article “Tracing contacts: a good idea too late?” you observe that, even before the current crisis, tracing was important and local health departments weren’t very good at it. If nothing else, tracing now will develop our capability, and having a robust tracing capability will be crucial at the start of that next wave.