We must look out for ourselves NFL veteran Malcolm Jenkins sparks race debate with coronavirus message

NFL veteran Malcolm Jenkins has set off a race debate after calling on African Americans to “look out for ourselves” during the Covid-19 pandemic and claiming that the community has “never been prioritized” by the government.

The New Orleans Saints safety issued the message in a video posted to Twitter on Saturday, firstly thanking the nation’s doctors, nurses and first responders before directly addressing black Americans. 

“We must survive. This pandemic is real, and the damage that is left in wake of the coronavirus is realized mostly in our communities,” said Jenkins, 32, who is dressed in a ‘Dear Black People’ sweater.  

#dearblackpeople We are the most impacted, yet the focus of resources aren’t being invested in us. We cannot wait for a government that has NEVER prioritized us. We must look out for ourselves. Take care of you first, share resources, protect the elderly, and stay home! pic.twitter.com/Gcc6kJBC4U

“Bad policy, institutional neglect, and overexposure place us disproportionately within arm’s reach of the dangers of this deadly virus.

“We are the essential worker. We are the most impacted yet the focus of the resources aren’t being invested in us.

“We cannot wait on a government that has never prioritized us. We must look out for ourselves.

“So take care of you first, share your resources, protect the elderly and stay home as much as possible

“Please stay safe. Stay healthy and survive. Because whether they know it or not, the world needs us, and we need us,” the two-time Super Bowl winner added.

Data from some US cities has backed up some of Jenkins’ claims, showing a higher proportion of deaths in the black community when compared to their overall representation in the population.

One such example is Chicago, where according to public health information, 68 percent of the coronavirus deaths have been of African Americans even though they make up 30 percent of the population.

Some have pointed to the fact that African Americans often fill jobs such as caregivers, cashiers and public transit employees, which make them more exposed to the virus. 

Disproportionate levels of health problems among the black population such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease may also make them more vulnerable.

Nonetheless, given that the pandemic has wrought destruction far and wide across the US, Jenkins was accused of using the message to cause a racial divide.

Some Twitter users felt that the emphasis should be on protecting all lives, rather than making appeals such as Jenkins’ which targeted particular sections of society.   

It’s the wrong message homie. If a white athlete said the same, he’d be killed for it. Career over, Cant we all just be 1 people??

The focus is on ALL Americans!! Not black, white, purple or green..lets focus on that not directing blame!!

Inner cities are being hit the hardest, which is exactly where the majority of funds are going. Racial divide will never close with statements like these.

Based on official statistics, the US has been the nation hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It passed another grim milestone on Saturday when it overtook Italy as the country with the highest reported death toll from the panic, breaching the 20,000 deaths mark.

READ MORE: US overtakes Italy in Covid-19 death toll as fatalities go past 20,000 

There have been around 530,000 cases reported in the US, although infectious diseases specialist Dr Anthony Fauci has said the country is finally “starting to see the levelling off and coming down” of the trend.

As the Covid-19 outbreak initially spread around the world, there was wild online speculation that black people were immune from the disease due to the low number of cases in countries in Africa. 

That myth has been firmly debunked as the virus has caused more and more deaths around the world.

“Despite many claims to the contrary, [there is] no truth, no fact at all in claims of genetic differences, immunity or susceptibility, to disease based on race,” Otis Brawley, a professor of epidemiology Johns Hopkins University, said recently.