Beyond Social Vulnerability: COVID-19 as a Disaster of Racial Capitalism
Keywords:social vulnerability, racial capitalism, disasters, COVID-19
The hazards and disasters field routinely emphasizes that there is no such thing as a natural disaster. This is a nod to the fact that environmental disasters are caused by the human actions or inactions intersecting with the occurrence of a natural hazard, e.g. hurricane, fire, earthquake. This essay argues that the disaster literature can help us understand the causes and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic but only if we consider the pandemic as a disaster and its profound impacts as outcomes of racial capitalism. Through intersectional systemic forms of oppression that both devalue Black, Indigenous and Latinx people and extract labor from them, racial capitalism has rendered these communities vulnerable.
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