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A Prayer for the Nation: The Legacy of Racism in an era of COVID-19

Data from the COVID Racial Data Tracker & US Census Bureau. Today, I want to invite you to join me in Day Two of my 30 day Prayer for the Nation. We need a revival.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 7.3 million people have had COVID-19. So far, we have lost over 209,000 loved […]

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Data from the COVID Racial Data Tracker & US Census Bureau.

Today, I want to invite you to join me in Day Two of my 30 day Prayer for the Nation. We need a revival. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over 7.3 million people have had COVID-19. So far, we have lost over 209,000 loved ones to the Coronavirus in the United States.  As of September 27th, COVID-19 cases were trending upward in 26 states, especially in the West and central parts of America. In the last week, six states reported more than 10,000 new cases.

According to data by APM Research Lab, the actual death rates from COVID-19 data (aggregated from all U.S. states and the District of Columbia through September 15, 2020) have reached new highs for all race groups. They are as follows:

1 in 1,020 African-Americans has died (or 97.9 deaths per 100,000)

1 in 1,220 Indigenous/First-Nation Americans has died (or 81.9 deaths per 100,000)

1 in 1,400 Pacific Islander Americans has died (or 71.5 deaths per 100,000)

1 in 1,540 Latinx Americans has died (or 64.7 deaths per 100,000)

1 in 2,150 White Americans has died (or 46.6 deaths per 100,000)

1 in 2,470 Asian-Americans has died (or 40.4 deaths per 100,000)

This data also reveals that African-Americans continue to experience the highest actual COVID-19 mortality rates nationwide—more than twice as high as the rate for Whites and Asians, who have the lowest actual rates. This means roughly 20,800 Black, 10,900 Latinx, 700 Indigenous, and 80 Pacific Islander Americans would STILL be alive, if they had died of COVID-19 at the same actual rate as White Americans.

This is heart breaking and we need to pray for our nation.

This past weekend I moderated a powerful panel composed of college students who were selected as Emerging Scholars in the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey (ABCNJ). The theme of the panel was: “Lift Every Voice: Youth Leaders on Racism, Education, and the Role of the Church in an Era of COVID-19.” I am grateful to Reverend Miriam Mendez, the Executive Minister and Senior Regional Pastor of ABCNJ for having the vision and foresight to host such a critical conservation.

Our panelists addressed howwe have witnessed the brutality and global protests over anti-black violence against George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others. They also shared how for most of us, our work, school, and congregational life have transitioned from in person to fully remote contexts. The most engaging aspect of the panel was hearing the students respond to questions such as: How are our young people interpreting these contemporary realities and how has it shaped their educational, social, and spiritual lives? What lessons have young people learned and how have these experiences prepared them for future engagement with the church? What should “the Church” be doing to support and encourage our youth and college aged students?

My prayer is that congregations everywhere will invite more conversations with our youth. Our students have a LOT to say about the state of our country and the state of our churches. They have also had to come of age during a pandemic and see racial injustice up close as well as see violent imagery depicting police brutality blazed across various social media outlets.

I pray that as a nation we come to terms with how racial injustice impacts health disparities and commit to doing more to address the realities of systemic racism, bias and indifference. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) and this issue is everyone’s problem. God we cry out to you and ask that you heal the land. We ask Holy God that you convict the conscious of policy makers everywhere to provide adequate resources to all communities so that access to medical care, affordable housing, and healthy food is a reality for all Americans. We pray this prayer and ask you to give us guidance and wisdom to serve all of your people across the land.  

We pray a special prayer for families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and ask for continued healing and restoration to all of those have suffered from illness related to the Coronavirus.

We honor you God and please help us to honor each creation here on Earth that was made in your image.

We pray this prayer in your mighty, powerful and Holy Name. Amen!

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Dr. Karen Jackson-Weaver is a minister, historian, and religious scholar with a focus on religion, ethics and political affairs. Dr. Jackson-Weaver recently transitioned from the UK, where she was a Visiting Scholar and Dean-in-Residence at Oxford University. She is a member of the Board of Trustees at Princeton Theological Seminary where she serves as Secretary of the Board and Chair of the Student Life Committee. She is an Associate Minister at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, New Jersey and the former National Series Editor for the Teaching Religious Studies series published by Oxford University Press & the American Academy of Religion.

Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter at @KJWeaverPhD.

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