The Myth of Black Immunity: Racialized Disease during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Project Description

As the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic sweeps across the world, troubling associations between race and disease have gone viral. On social media, theories of Black people’s immunity to the novel coronavirus spread rapidly and widely, with the initially small number of cases in Africa often cited as evidence. Since then, the virus has spread to the continent and will surely exacerbate already compromised health systems. The virus was also erroneously labelled as the “Kung Fu Flu” and the “China Virus,” among other epithets, by members of the United States Presidential administration—including the President himself. While these labels may have the air of jest, white supremacists have sought to use the novel coronavirus for bioterrorism, targeting racial minorities specifically. Claims of immunity falsely suggest that Black people across the entire Diaspora cannot contract the disease. Meanwhile, labels that construct the disease as Chinese obscure the vital pathways the contagion has taken irrespective of racial categories. These claims are more than just racist and xenophobic—they are dangerous to everyone’s health.

Ezelle Sanford III collaborated with Chelsey Carter on several pandemic-related projects portrayed here.

Translational Perspective

This piece was intended to respond to behaviors in multiple communities that racialized COVID-19. We end by advocating that these actors change their behaviors to preserve everyone's health.

Contact Infomation: First name
Contact Information: Last name
Sanford III
Contact Information: Position title
Postdoctoral Reserach Associate
Contact Information: Institutional affiliation
University of Pennsylvania
Contact Information: Email address
ezelles [at]

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA