by Dana George | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on July 11, 2020
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No one is immune to the impact of COVID-19. The trick is to get through this crisis and plan for the next.
If you are without regular wages, trying to get by on a reduced income, or facing sky-high medical bills, you understand the financial pressures associated with COVID-19. As awful as it has been for America as a whole, the financial stress on people of color has been disproportionate and particularly cruel.
Here, we focus on the unique challenges facing people of color during COVID-19 and offer some tips for weathering the storm.
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Black and Hispanic people, communities over-represented in low-paying jobs like hospitality, domestic services, and agriculture, have suffered the highest percentage of employment due to the novel coronavirus. When the outbreak began, these workers were among the first to lose their jobs, have their hours reduced, or be required to remain on the job regardless of health risks.
In April, one month after businesses shut in most places, 61% of Hispanic, 44% of Black, and 38% of white Americans responded to a Pew Research Center survey by saying that they, or someone in their household, had already lost a job or had hours reduced by the pandemic.
At the same time, 70% of Hispanic, 73% of Black, and 47% of white respondents admitted to having no emergency fund to fall back on. The majority of those without an emergency fund said they would not be able to cover their bills for three months, even if they borrowed money or sold assets.
The way we view the pandemic depends, in part, on the community of which we are part. It was clear early on that this disease disproportionately impacted the Black community. In April -- again, approximately one month after shutdowns began -- 27% of Black adults said they knew someone who had been hospitalized or died with COVID-19. That number was already twice the percentage of Hispanic and white adults who said the same.
According to the Center for American Progress, 33% of Hispanics, 56% of Blacks, 31% of Native Americans, and 27% of Asian Americans have recently experienced discrimination when applying for jobs. People of color also experience discrimination when they ask for equal pay or seek a promotion. When the U.S. does begin to emerge from the dark cloud of the pandemic, people of color will likely be the last Americans to experience a sense of financial recovery.
As tough as it is right now, there are steps you can take immediately:
There is a good chance you will look back on this period of your life with more than a little awe -- after all, none of us have experienced anything quite like it. The most important lesson may be to never give up. As bad as things seem today, they can get better.
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