The world is in crisis and people are hurting in countless ways. Many are those who are distressed and struggling without one empathic look, one word or deed of sympathy. The religion of Christ is about love and compassion for “our neighbors”. It is about identifying our interests with those of humanity and supporting people in their needs independently of their culture, color or creed.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a marked increase in discrimination: social and racial discrimination arousing out of the fear of being infected.
The anti-Asian xenophobia that appeared at first, has then been replaced by ostracism towards health care workers, supermarket employees or anyone perceived as a threat including foreigners, neighbors, work colleagues or family members.
Generally speaking, discrimination is the act of making distinctions between human beings based on the groups or categories to which they are perceived to belong. People in those groups are then treated unfairly or excluded of contacts and privileges that are available to the member of other groups.
Discrimination, day-to-day micro-aggressions or prejudicial treatments are harmful to health and well-being. This is what studies are consistently showing, pointing to the association between experiences of discrimination and a variety of indicators of mental health and psychological well-being. Those who are regularly exposed to discrimination or micro-aggressions often feel they’re in a state of constant vigilance, expecting to be a target. Some might even avoid situations where they anticipate they could be treated poorly. Such an increased watchfulness is a factor to chronic stress.
More recently the impact of discrimination on physical health has also been established, with outcomes on mortality, hypertension or incident asthma among others.
Being a risk factor for mental and physical illnesses, discrimination is a health hazard.
So while we are going through the Covid-19 pandemic, we should be careful that precaution, protection or prevention do not become synonymous for discrimination, exclusion or rejection.
IS A CALL TO CARE!
1. Addo (2020) Double pandemic: racial discrimination amid coronavirus disease 2019, Social science and humanities.
2. Lewis at all. (2015) Self-reported experiences of discrimination and health: scientific advances, ongoing controversies, and emerging issues, Annu Rev Clin Psychol.