Ethnic Media Services: Online Briefing For Ethnic Media

The inadequacy of America ́s health care, economic, and policing systems has been laid bare by a perfect storm of crises that are hitting the country at the same time. Over the last 11 weeks, speakers have explored systemwide breakdowns in our public institutions to address the inequities the pandemic has exposed. On June 19, four experts in the fields of race relations and criminal justice reform, immigrant integration, the job sector, and health care shared their perspectives on how to reimagine these systems in hopes of building a more equitable future. 

Dr. Tung Nguyen, Professor in the Health Division of General Internal Medicine at UCSF 

gave an update on the pandemic numbers. As of June 19, there are 8.84 million people that were diagnosed with COVID-19 and 465,000 deaths worldwide. In the US, there are over 2.31 million cases with over 122,000 deaths. We know that the number of cases are surging in many states. 

Arizona, Florida, California, Nevada and Texas reported record spikes in confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday as states continue their phased reopening and ramp up testing.


Dr. Tung Nguyen, Professor in the Health Division of General Internal Medicine at UCSF

People with underlying medical conditions were six times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID-19 infection.  Dr. Nguyen explained that African American population is more vulnerable to the infection due to their underlying medical conditions. 

States which have mandated the usage of face masks, have seen a decline in the cases compared to others after the mandate was placed.

Due to the high amount of cases, Californians are now required to wear masks in a variety of public settings. The order by Governor Gavin Newsom includes visits to high-risk settings such as healthcare facilities and while people are waiting or riding public transit.

On the vaccine front, researchers in the United Kingdom announced preliminary results from a clinical trial that showed a low-cost steroid called Dexamethasone appeared to lower the risk of death in patients with COVID-19. The researchers said the anti-inflammatory drug, which is not a cure, reduced the number of deaths in COVID-19 patients on ventilators or oxygen alone by one-third. 

On the future of public health after the pandemic, out of this there should come some good. 

Health disparities are looked at as an afterthought.

“There is no health care quality without equality, “ Dr. Nguyen said. 

He said that The United States has the most expensive health care system in the world, but its outcomes are poor because it is focused on the wrong things. We have the worst life expectancy from comparable countries. 

Factors that contribute the most are low life expectancy or income quality, low levels of education and exposure to violence along with other key determinants, like jobs, housing and food insecurity and climate change. These are the proper topics for public health and for health care to work on in the future. 

Constance L. “Connie” Rice, Civil rights activist and lawyer, and the co-founder and co-director of Advancement Project California spoke on what changes need to be made on law enforcement. 


Constance L. “Connie” Rice, Civil rights activist and lawyer

“There are a whole list of reforms and I would ask people to go out 10,000 feet out farther to look at this system, “ Rice said. “American policing descends from the slave patrols and it’s a suppression containment policing that’s done to populations that are not meant to be part of the mainstream.” 

“So when you have a system that is actually designed and descended from slavery, it’s so deeply embedded in the DNA of American policing that it is their job is to keep Black people in their place and away from White people and wealthy people.

“It’s about a toxic orchard, it’s not about a bad apple. It’s the entire culture.” 

Rice commented that people are not asking for politer search and destroy, they are revoking their consent for aggressive enforcement. They are demanding safety for the poorest of the poor. And investment in those communities. 

She emphasized  that it’s the mission, the mindset and the policing that they enforce that needs to change. 

Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California spoke on inequality, racism and the other challenges faced by the society of color. 


Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California

“I think what we’ve seen is a major shift in U.S. consciousness around both policing and the sort of brutality that’s often been involved in contemporary policing and the racist character of it, but even more deeply that the policing is really just a tip of a racist iceberg that has to do with economic inequality, educational inequality and environmental inequality.

Pastor said that the United States has a wide wealth gap and there are significant racial disparities in the pandemic. When a crisis hits, lower income people don’t have a choice but to go back to work because they haven’t accumulated wealth. “

Pastor concluded with, “My advice is for us to not lose sight of the fact that this is a moment in which an entire system of systemic inequality is being revealed, and we need to begin to tackle it with our hearts and with our heads.” 

Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a 50-year old non-profit research and consulting organization based in Silicon Valley spoke on what work may look like in the future.


Marina Gorbis, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future (IFTF)

Gorbis talked about her book “The Nature of the Future” on how new technology platforms would look like and work might look like and at the end of it she said that negative scenarios were also possible. 

“The kind of things we’re experiencing today is actually the result of decisions and choices we made decades ago. And similarly, the kinds of decisions and choices we make today are probably going to shape our post-COVID-19 future.

“We have to create a new ideology and what is considered normal.”

In addition to all the racial inequalities that are now coming to the core, Gorbis explained, it’s an opportunity to rethink our economic pillars, how we treat workers, and who deserves things. 

She also believes that we need to debunk this idea of rugged individualism and realize that we are all connected. And that we need to think in terms of interconnectiveness, especially with our global issues.