Earlier this month, a brawl broke out between the hostess of an Italian restaurant in New York City and Black women from Texas over the requirement that they show proof of vaccination.
It later emerged that the three women had provided documentation of COVID-19 vaccinations, but the altercation had escalated after two men, both Black, turned up to join them at Carmine’s and didn’t have proof.
The restaurant’s hostess, who is white, suggested the vaccination cards the women provided were fake, spoke condescendingly and used a racial slur, Justin Moore, an attorney for the women, told the New York Times. The restaurant denied the allegation that racism played a role.
Black people are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19, even though the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on them. Racial breakdowns of vaccination data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Black Americans are lagging far behind other groups with only around 30 percent fully vaccinated.
Newsome, who organized a protest outside Carmine’s earlier this week, pointed to recent data showing that less than half of the city’s Black residents between the ages of 18 and 44 are vaccinated. “That means that you’re excluding a tremendous amount of Black New Yorkers, from engaging in everyday actions,” he said.
Several factors are driving the racial disparity, including mistrust of the medical establishment due to a history of discriminatory treatment, said Amara Enyia, policy and research coordinator for the Movement for Black Lives.
It dates back to the nation’s history of medical experimentation on Black enslaved people. Other examples include the government’s Tuskegee syphilis experiment, where treatment was withheld from Black men with syphilis.
“I think it’s important to note the historic context for vaccine hesitancy. There is a history of a healthcare system that has actually been harmful to Black people,” she told Newsweek.
But more recent examples of Black people not receiving adequate medical care have also reinforced the mistrust, Enyia said, citing the case of Susan Moore, a Black doctor who died of COVID-19 complications after complaining of racist treatment while in hospital.