African American Studies Response to COVID-19

As the public health crisis associated with the Coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, there have been disturbing reports of an increase in anti-Asian, and particularly anti-Chinese, hate crimes and harassment in communities across the United States, including here in New Haven. At this time of heightened individual and societal stress, the Yale Department of African American Studies condemns all forms of racism and xenophobia, and it urges awareness of the relationship between recent developments and the long divisive history of “yellow peril” fear mongering in the United States and elsewhere.

African American Studies as a discipline is well placed to grasp the intersectional dimensions of this unfolding crisis, especially its discriminatory impact on minority populations. We know in particular that there has been a disproportionate loss of life to Covid-19 among African Americans and people of color.  African American and low-income communities have been particularly hit hard by the lack of adequate medical care and housing, and disproportionately work in service occupations that place them at greater risk to exposure to Covid-19. In Louisiana, African Americans account for 70 percent of all deaths from Covid-19, and in Chicago, they account for 72 percent of such deaths. Full data is not yet available here in New Haven, but we do know black city residents account for 50 percent of deaths, and 41 percent of hospitalizations, despite being only 33 percent of the city population. This knowledge underscores the importance of expressing solidarity with others also suffering from racism and xenophobia.  

Recent statements by the Association for Asian American Studies and the President of the Association for Asian Studies contain useful resources both for those directly affected by Anti-Asian harassment and those who are concerned about it.
Although we very much hope this will not be necessary, please remember that if you find yourself targeted for harassment or discrimination of any kind, there are people here at Yale who can help.   

The Asian American Cultural Center offers student mental health and counseling services. Students can also contact deans’ designees with any concerns about discrimination and harassment. Staff and faculty, and students too, can reach out to the Office of Institutional Equity and Access. If you are affected, and need assistance, you can also reach out to many other university resources, including Student Mental Health and Counseling, the Chaplain’s Office, the Employee Assistance Program, Office of International Students and Scholars, a supervisor, dean, head of college, or another advisor.

The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) is hosting “Under the Blacklight,” a series of online conversations that address the intersectional impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and those most vulnerable.  Our colleagues at Yale- Daniel HoSang, David Blight, and Nina Kohn-  are among the scholars and activists who have participated in the conversations.  You can view the recorded conversation and rsvp for upcoming events at:

The  AAPF has provided a  “Resource List” that includes  links and resources that cover a large array of information regarding legal and hate crime reporting, emergency funds, and  mental health care.