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FRSO online event: COVID-19 pandemic striking Black and brown communities

By Michela Martinazzi |
April 27, 2020
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New York City, NY – On Sunday, April 26, Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) Central Committee members Frank Chapman and Masao Suzuki gave talks in the livestreamed webinar “Pandemic + Racism = Genocide: Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Oppressed Nationalities & How We can Fight Back!”.

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, certain communities are affected more than others. The webinar’s purpose was to explore how COVID-19 has affected Black and brown communities, why the virus is especially dangerous in prisons and detention centers, and how imperialism is at the center of it all.

The conversation was facilitated by Marisol Marquez, a FRSO member in Los Angeles, who does primarily anti-police crimes work in Boyle Heights. She started by talking about how the pandemic has affected her community and neighborhood. Marquez mentioned how ICE is still targeting undocumented communities because they know people are sheltering in place. Marquez emphasized how during these times its vital that we continue to fight back and organize.

Marisol introduced Frank Chapman. Chapman spoke clearly and emphatically about how the pandemic greatly hit the Black and brown neighborhoods in Chicago, and how it is hitting the prisons the hardest. At one point Chapman asked, “How can we test, treat, isolate, social distance, in a society that puts profits over sickness and death?”

Marquez then introduced Masao Suzuki, who aptly spoke about how COVID-19 affected indigenous communities and the violence that Asian Americans have been experiencing during this period. He said, “Very often the United States lumps indigenous people under ‘other,’ so we don’t have an accurate reporting how COVID-19 has hit them.” Suzuki also went into the economic downfall coinciding with pandemic, but rather than focus on the bourgeois concerns, he was able to highlight how the economic downturn impacts oppressed communities.

The webinar ended with a lively Q-and-A session where the speakers gave advice and elaborated on different points in their presentations.

You can watch the full presentation here.