Malcolm Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints urged Black people to be self-reliant when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Jenkins conveyed that message Sunday in an Instagram video that he shared with his 453,000 followers.
“We must survive. This pandemic is real and the damage that is left in the wake of the coronavirus is realized mostly in our communities,” said the Saints safety after he thanked first responders. “Bad policy, institutional neglect, and overexposure place us disproportionately in arms reach of the dangers of this deadly virus.”
“We are the essential worker,” he added. “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.”
There are increasing reports that show that Black people are dying at much higher rates from the virus compared to other racial groups.
In Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County, Blacks make up roughly 70 percent of the deaths reported while Black people make up only 26 percent of residents there.
In Michigan, where Black people only make up 14 percent of the population, 40 percent of Blacks have died from the disease and 33 percent of Blacks make up confirmed virus cases in that state.
The numbers also are bad in Illinois, with Blacks — who make up 30 percent of the population in Chicago — comprising around 72 percent of the city’s deaths, according to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as of the week of April 13.
A number of factors have contributed to the higher death rates in Black as well as Latino communities, compared to other racial groups. These include not having proper health insurance, having pre-existing health conditions, and employment that doesn’t allow for the possibility of being able to work from home.
After Jenkins’ message spread, a lot of people thanked him and wrote things like, “Well said Malcolm 👏” and “I love you.”
But a number of people said Jenkins’ message was racially divisive, and many called him a racist.
“Dude what a time to spread division. Idk how you claim you’re for equality when clearly you think you’re color makes you special,” someone wrote.
“What about white people?” another person asked.
A lot of people then came to Jenkins’ defense and said his message was needed.
“He is not being racist at all,” someone wrote. “If you are not an African American then you clearly don’t understand where he is coming from. He is saying WE (black ppl) are at a greater risk because our communities is under served.”
“To all of those that think that Malcolm is putting black people first it is because he is a voice for the marginalized,” another person stated.
Jenkins, who’s originally from New Jersey, signed with the Saints in March after playing with the Philadelphia Eagles for five years. The move marks a return to the Saints for Jenkins, who started his career there.