Prof. Judith Scott & Colleagues Share the True Impact of the Pandemic on Black Communities in Policy Report

a father and son drawing together
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya

In a recent social policy report, Prof. Judith Scott and other experts from across the country address how historical and structural inequalities amplified COVID’s impact on Black communities, including the specific effects on children and families. The report, “Wearing a Mask Won’t Protect Us from Our History: The Impact of COVID-19 on Black Children and Families,” states that “individual, institutional, and structural racism served as the preexisting conditions for Covid-19 among the Black community.”

Many perceived the COVID-19 pandemic to be equally harmful to all people, due to the highly contagious nature of the virus. However, research shows that the pandemic has affected marginalized communities at a much greater rate, due to differing medical care, economic and social environments, and long histories of oppression. For Black communities especially, the pandemic has harmed the lives of individuals at almost every level.

In education, Black children suffered due to lack of access to technology during remote teaching, inequitable funding for school resources, and less instructional time. This disparity caused more Black children to lose formative years of education, harming their chances of academic progress and learning moving forward.

Outside of school, the pandemic forced Black youths to process large amounts of death and grief. The total impact of the pandemic in terms of emotional effects can be hard to estimate due to the unique circumstances, however the researchers have found that this loss is a form of trauma which takes more time and effort to manage. Many Black families also reported facing multiple types of hardships at once, such as loss of loved ones, loss of income, health issues, and accumulated stress.

By illuminating the inequalities impacting Black communities, the authors hope to help policymakers, researchers, and others in power to address, reduce, and eliminate these issues before they become grow further. The report shares recommendations for other researchers, policymakers, and educators to consider when addressing the deep-rooted impact of the pandemic on Black communities. Some of these include:

  • Increase empirical research into the true total impact of the pandemic using a humanistic approach 
  • Fund the work of Black researchers already working with impacted communities
  • Call for more long-term state and federal financial support for Black families, allowing them to meet basic needs
  • Redirect funds to education and social service sectors, so professionals can help those in need 
  • Address health inequalities by investing in local hospitals and creating universal healthcare, so people can access the care they need without the worry of financial ruin 

This social policy report is one of three published each year by the Society for Research in Child Development.

Read more here.

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