Joyce welcomes Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH to the show.
June 16, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Sharrelle Barber, ScD, MPH to the show. Dr. Barber is the national advisor and coordinator for the Poor People’s Campaign COVID-19 Health Justice Advisory Committee, comprised of a group of public health experts from Harvard (FXB Center for Health and Human Rights), UCLA (Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice, and Health), and other academic institutions across the country. During the pandemic, she has provided expert commentary on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in black communities for local, national, and international media outlets. During the show she will discuss The Mass Poor People’s Assembly and Moral March on Washington, which will be the largest digital gathering of poor, dispossessed and impacted people, faith leaders, and people of conscience on June 20, 2020.

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TRANSCRIPT

BENDER CONSULTING SERVICES

JUNE 16, 2020

DISABILITY MATTERS

1:00 PM CT

 

 

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      >> Welcome to "Disability Matters" with your host, Joyce Bender. All comments, views and opinions expressed on the show are solely those of the host, guest and callers. Now the host of "Disability Matters" here is Joyce Bender.

     >> JOYCE: Wow, wow, wow. That's what I have to say about our guest today. Wait, wait until you hear her. I'm so excited. Okay. In the meantime before I forget, hey, a special shout-out to my friends in South Korea and Japan, Geon Hyeong Cho and Richard Roberts. I've told you this before. When I speak across the world on the employment of people with disabilities it is an embassy that asks me to go there and I met these two Richard and Geon and guess what? They're working on a show that they're advertising, our show from South Korea and Japan with guests on from there. Look for that coming and to all of you around the world, listening to this show, thank you for helping me help people with disabilities and change their life. And that includes, of course, the corporations that sponsor this show like Highmark, people's, Wells Fargo and the employment options. Thank you very much. Hey, we have to get right down to it. Because we have Dr. Barber on the show today. I am so -- I want to tell you, Dr. Barber, I am so honored to have you as our guest today. I am just so thrilled to have you with us. Welcome to the show.

     >> Thank you so much. I appreciate it Joyce. For all the work that you do, thank you so much for making place for this conversation.

     >> JOYCE: My pleasure, before we talk about COVID and the impact on the black community and people with disabilities I don't want to waste time. I want to make sure we get to talk about this right at the beginning. The poor people's campaign virtual March this Saturday coming up. Everyone listening, I want you to share this on your social media with everyone but how about if you tell our listeners about that walk.

     >> Yes, yes, yes. Thank you so much again. In my role as coordinator and national advisor of the COVID-19 health justice advisory campaign for the poor people's campaign it has been a pleasure to be alongside this movement in the midst of this pandemic. One of the reasons is because we in public health and me and my colleagues know that a movement really is what's necessary in this moment because of what we have seen in terms of the deep inequities that the pandemic has exposed. So before the pandemic was even an issue, the poor people's campaign had announced on June 20, 2020 there would be this massive march on Washington and the pandemic hit and instead of canceling it, decided to transform it into a digital gathering. That's what is going to be happening. So the broadcast of the gathering will be on June 20th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and there is going to be a rebroadcast of it at 6:00 p.m. on June 20th. If you want to find out more information about it, you can go to June 2020.org. June 2020.org. And this is a gathering of over 150 national organizations, grassroots groups from over 45 states. And what I've always admired about the poor people's campaign, it is a campaign that lifts up the voices of directly impacted leaders, right? And so this movement is built by grassroots folks who are on the ground directly impacted by the injustices of racism, poverty, ecological devastation and the war economy. We also have some powerful guests like former Vice President Al Gore, actor Alexander -- Erica Alexander and so many more who are really there to just lift up these voices. Lift up these stories. Those who are being impacted by these issues long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and folks who are now in the midst of it not only feeling the pain of it, but also really coming together and building power in this moment to say to this country we have to imagine a way forward that's much better. We're excited. Again, if you want to find out more information go to June 2020.org. June 2020.org. Really excited about what is going to happen and what it is going to birth so we can continue to build our momentum and build power in this moment and beyond.

     >> JOYCE: And your father, is it Dr. reverend William Barber, reverend William Barber, bishop William Barber or all those above?

     >> All those above. Bishop Barber, reverend Dr. William Barber and his co-lead Dr. Harris will be spearheading the network and speaking. It will be a powerful and necessary, especially given what we've lived through in the last few months, it is a necessary bomb, if you will, for the moment that we're living in.

     >> JOYCE: And, you know, if you are listening and you just joined us, Dr. Barber is known internationally for her work as a social epidemiologist and civil rights advocate. She is a Harvard social epidemiologist at Drexel and quoted in the "New York Times." she is a real superstar, and her father -- I'll call him bishop so that I don't make any mistakes here, William  Barber, I'm sure you've seen him frequently on MSNBC and interviewed recently by Oprah. He is carrying the mantel that Dr. Martin Luther king started with the poor people's campaign. He is carrying that mantel. He is a moral issue with him and that is what is so meaningful to me and I'm sure everyone, but as a person of faith I have to tell you that part about being a moral imperative is so important.

     >> Absolutely.

     >> JOYCE: So you have to go to that March. You have to go. Once again where do they go with the website again?

     >> The website is June 2020.org. Again it's a virtual March, a virtual gathering in lieu of the March in Washington that was planned. June 2020.org and you just don't want to miss it. It will be a really powerful day. I'm really excited about it.

     >> JOYCE: If you want to make a change, you have to get involved. It's not enough to talk about it. Not enough to talk about it. Well, I must tell you, Dr. Barber, that I did not know what a social epidemiologist was until I met you. So first explain that to our listeners around the world, and then why you decided to pursue that career.

     >> Sure, Joyce. What I'll say is most people didn't know what a social epidemiologist was before this pandemic. But what we know is that this pandemic has exposed so much. Just to give you just a basic definition or how I describe myself it's someone as an epidemiologist. I look at health and populations, but what I'm really concerned about are the social, the economic, the political drivers. What we call the root causes of health and health inequalities in populations. I'm particularly interested in how this plays out for Blacks in the United States. And for me it makes sense because as a young girl I had always wanted to go to medical school mostly because I had an interest in health and an interest in understanding why people got sick. But in undergrad 15 years ago when I was an undergraduate student at Bennett college I was introduced to the field of public health. And in a summer program at Harvard was introduced to this idea that you can link some of the social factors, the broader social factors such as discrimination and racism and then link that to data on health and look at patterns of disease based on the kind of social and structural drivers. That fascinated me. It combined my passion for health and social justice. Public health and social epidemiologist became a bridge between the two. Thinking about oftentimes we think about health only in the context of the healthcare system. But I think about health and my colleagues think about health in the broader society. And then so then the next step is then what do you do to change health? It is not just what happens in a doctor's visit. Not what happens within the healthcare system. It is really all of these structures, these structural factors, these systems of racism, of poverty that really are the most important drivers of health. If you are going to change outcomes, particularly for Blacks, you have to change those structures. So that is kind of how I got involved in it. Now the world knows why this is so important. What we're seeing in the pandemic is it is exposing all of the inequities from racism to poverty and driving higher rates in certain communities and these are the things we must address if we are actually going to improve outcomes in this pandemic and beyond this pandemic.

     >> JOYCE: It is amazing how this made it so clear, isn't it?

     >> Right. Exactly. Yeah. Absolutely.

     >> JOYCE: I want to talk about COVID-19 for a moment. I will never forget what you said on the phone when I said what are you thinking about how people are reacting about all of this? And you said that it's like being in the twilight zone, which isn't that the truth? It is like being in the twilight zone.

     >> Yes.

     >> JOYCE: What is your opinion of the status of COVID right now? Do you believe some states are reopening too early? Do you believe there are handcuffs on scientists and social advocates like you to really speak up? What do you think?

     >> Yeah, so the pandemic, it's been like a twilight zone and really unbelievable. This is not just coming from me. This is coming from colleagues in the field. This is coming from top experts in public health where you are looking at the response that this country had and really just shaking our heads because I've said this often, it has been reckless. It has been irresponsible. And the decisions being made have really circumvented science and our best public health practices of what you do when you are dealing one, with a pandemic, and one, with a pandemic we know very little about. COVID-19, the coronavirus is new to all of us. We're learning as we go. When you have something new that can impact so many people and be devastating for so many people, you should handle it with care and do everything you can in an aggressive way based on science, based on best public health practice, in order to mitigate its spread in the population and really try to get it under control and we just didn't do that. At the federal level we did not have a coordinated national response. Early on we were slow to get ramp up testing and still are not in a place where we're testing at a level that is really high. We didn't protect the most marginalized communities. We didn't protect folks in prisons and detention centers, homeless folks that have no homes, folks living in poverty, folks living in rationally segregated communities in our inner cities across this country. We failed to protect. We failed to protect the essential workers, right, who are essential in this moment and were not given the necessary protections they needed to be safe, right? We didn't do all of those things. And it has led us to be at this moment in this moment the global epicenter with over two million cases, over 116,000 deaths, and it's not getting better. The cases overall are at a plateau but not declining like other places around the world. So we see declines in places like Italy, in places like New Zealand who really took aggressive action early on. And I've said this often is that really, this government is playing Russian roulette with the lives of its citizens and more so with the most marginalized. You asked about reopening. This is something that colleagues and experts around the country have said. We really did reopen too quickly and that again is because we paid more attention to the profit as opposed to people. And we have been in general more focused on the economy as opposed to the health and lives of people. That's just really unfortunate that in the midst of a pandemic, we did not put together the most coordinated and responsible response to this virus.

     >> JOYCE: And for all people like you or Dr. Fauci or all these scientists and public health experts that said okay, when you go out wear a mask, social distance. You know what I mean? Wear a mask, social distance. But we need examples. We need it from the top we need examples because everyone is getting -- you know, there was an article in the "Washington Post" I think it was today and this scientist said you know how people will say I'm sorry, I'm tired. I'm tired of this I want to go out. He said guess what? The coronavirus doesn't care that you're tired.

     >> Right, exactly. That's what has been really frustrating. We are at a point -- put it in context, too. Here is the thing. We went into lockdown and quarantined. Stay at home orders were put in place in March. A lot of folks are saying -- again public health experts say we wasted the time between March and now. Between March and now what should have happened was we should have ramped up our testing, we should have put in place the contact tracing that we need that's necessary to really know where the virus is and more people have been exposed and get them to self-quarantine for 14 days. We should have made sure our most marginalized populations had everything they need. Personal protective equipment. Places to safely isolate. The income protections, right? With regard to the economic -- all of the built-up tax favored corporations, not everyday people. In the three-month window from March to now we didn't do everything we should have done in order to prepare for reopening. Now folks are tired. The virus hasn't gone anywhere. It is still around. It is going to be around and what we have probably done is made it so that we'll have -- states will have to return back to kind of shutting down and folks aren't going to want to do that. Again, it's because we didn't have the coordinated response at the federal level to trickle down to the states, trickle down to local communities to be able to really nip this thing in the bud. Makes that initial sacrifice at the very beginning so we wouldn't be in a place where we are right now. And that's the frustrating part. We knew what to do and we circumvented by it. We didn't listen to the experts or use the best available data and it is actually going to cost us in the long run.

     >> JOYCE: Well, you know, I live with epilepsy and if I had to go to a neurologist who said to me Joyce, this is what you should do. Or the mayor of the city saying hey, this is what you should do, who would I listen to? Who would we want to listen to if we're getting operated on? Would you listen to the scientists, the experts?

     >> Right.

     >> JOYCE: It's too bad, as you said, because too bad. It's alive.

     >> Yes.

     >> JOYCE: What is worse than people dying? It is alive.

     >> It is really alive, yeah.

     >> JOYCE: Well, that brings me to the African-American or Black community. I don't know how you would not know by seeing. There has to be a reason -- I have your quote and I will use your quote. It's not by -- it's these existing structural inequalities that are going to shape the racial inequalities in this pandemic, as you were quoted in the "New York Times" as saying. Would you explain that to our listeners what you meant?

     >> Yeah. So I study this. I study racial inequalities in health and have been doing so for some time now. Unfortunately me and many of our colleagues predicted even before data began to emerge on racial inequalities in COVID-19 we predicted that because we live in a society that is steeped in structural racism rooted in enslavement of African-American peoples and genocide of Native American people. Housing, criminal justice, healthcare, etc. We knew the pandemic would have a disproportionate impact because of that history and what we know about other diseases and Blacks having higher risks of death from other leading causes of death in this country? Unfortunately our predictions were correct what we saw in early April was the striking, striking racial inequalities that emerged from that. Now we're at about 2.3 times as likely to die from COVID-19 as Blacks compared to Whites. Over 20,000 deaths among Blacks and that rate is again much, much higher than all other groups in this country. And again, it is those systems and structures of racism. I'll give you an example.

Healthcare access. Blacks often live in communities that don't have access to quality healthcare. Early on in the pandemic there was a lack of access to testing where Blacks, you know, couldn't access the testing needed to even know they had the disease. Here in Philadelphia we saw those inequalities play out and we saw that even though the data showed that Blacks had higher rates of COVID-19, the testing was being done in predominantly white communities. There was a mismatch between the need and the resources being given to Black communities. We also know that within, for example, a place like Philadelphia, hyper segregated, which has and has been for some time, there are structural factors within neighborhood environments. For example, housing conditions, right? It's a luxury for people to stay at home and work from home. But some folks weren't able to do that because they were employed in essential jobs such as service workers. They weren't being protected in those essential jobs. Again not given personal protective equipment, not being given the adequate paid sick leave or hazard pay but they were being forced to work. These jobs are disproportionately Black and Brown. They returned home to their communities they put their families and communities at risk. If you understand it in that way it's a vicious cycle, right? Of potential exposure to the virus, transmission within communities all driven by the structural factors. The reason it's important to look at it in that way, early on folks began to blame Black people for the higher rates or higher death rates from COVID-19 saying you need to exercise more because of the underlying chronic conditions that make Blacks more susceptible. You aren't wearing a mask or washing your hands. How can you -- you have this big pandemic, all the structural factors and what we do is blame Blacks for the higher rates as opposed to looking at the broader issues. That's what I meant by that. We have to think systematically and structurally about the factors that Make Blacks and other groups more susceptible to this pandemic.

     >> JOYCE: Or if you're in poverty, not having access to transportation to get to the doctor.

     >> Exactly.

     >> JOYCE: Even on a bus it costs money no matter what you are do, it costs money.

     >> Exactly.

     >> JOYCE: I know I heard this oh well, they just have the worst health habits.

     >> Right.

     >> JOYCE: When I heard that I thought yeah, it's called poverty.

     >> Exactly. Again, that's exactly what I studied. One of the studies I've been involved in actually since 2012 or so is the Jackson heart study. The Jackson heart study is based in Jackson, Mississippi and it is really designed to look at cardiovascular disease in 5,000 African-Americans. Even in that cohort we find it is the social and structural factors that drive higher rates of heart disease, stroke. I've done a number of studies looking at neighborhood environments of where people live. Having access to healthy food, etc. The stresses that they experience in those environments, right? We see that individuals with higher levels of stressors are by wear people live. Socio-economic position. The social determinants of the health or structural determinants of health that really lead to the poor health outcomes. If we ignore that we ignore the structures and the empirical evidence is there and has been there we're missing the point when we're trying to understand what's causing the higher rates of exposure, the higher rates of transmission and then the higher likelihood of death for Black folks in this country.

     >> JOYCE: It's so funny -- not funny but it's horrifying. When you were talking about access to food, healthy food, remember, you said this is all about profit with so many things. You don't see a lot of whole foods close to these poverty areas.

     >> Right, exactly. Some folks have called this food apartheid in our communities where literally the ability to access grocery stores or even just other forms -- other outlets for healthy foods is dismal in so many of our communities. Again, not just a matter of opinion, this has been documented. We've seen this in study after study after study. And we know that these are the factors that really lead to the poor health conditions in our communities.

     >> JOYCE: Yeah. I know that you are right. When you were saying before when we were saying about how this pandemic unearthed things. I mentioned to you that people with disabilities have the highest unemployment of any group and many of those people that die are, by the way, people of color with disabilities. I always say that's double jeopardy. If you are a female it's triple jeopardy.

     >> Yes.

     >> JOYCE: We saw these terrible things happening. Like we had the Office of civil rights, we had to have early on a lawsuit in Alabama because they were pretty much saying all right, look, give this ventilator to the person that you think requires it. Guess what? It wasn't people with disabilities.

     >> Exactly.

     >> JOYCE: All of a sudden I thought you know what? How terrible. That really just shows me how it is. How you think about it.

     >> Yeah.

     >> JOYCE: How you think about people with disabilities. And just as you said about racism, I believe a lot of this is also -- when it is people with disabilities. I believe it's ableism. You don't count, you are inferior. What do you think? Do you think that's right?

     >> Yes, I think it's all of those things, right, Joyce? These interlocking isms we have in the country ableism, racism, or even those who live in poverty. This country, this society say those lives are disposable and they don't matter or count, right? And it's so interesting. Excuse my dog in the background.

     >> JOYCE: This is all part of being from home.

     >> Yes. I think he is -- again, ableism. He is agreeing. Ableism, like you said, the disability because you have a physical disability is beyond your control and somehow you are less than and inferior to, right? Or people who are Black or people who are Black women somehow your life matters much less. The fact that we can encode that or ingrain that in our medical decisions. It is like how healthy is this person? This person likely to live? You make your decision of whether or not you get a ventilator, you are literally codifying these ways which we've discriminated against folks, right? Based on abilities, based on race, based on so many other factors.

     >> JOYCE: Remember, you don't look like me.

     >> Uh-huh.

     >> JOYCE: So people with disabilities, you don't look like me and then if you have an invisible disability it doesn't matter, you still get categorized just as people in the Black and Brown communities have been. And well that's why we all have to work together and hopefully, you know, see that change.

     >> Yes.

     >> JOYCE: So I have a question I have to ask you because I so admire him. What is it like to grow up with Bishop William Barber?

     >> Oh my goodness. What is it like? Well, you definitely have to use your gifts. One of the things -- I mean we were taught both by our mother Rebecca Barber and Bishop Barber that all of us are born for a reason with a purpose. And we have actually a responsibility to use that -- those -- the talents we've been given and the platforms we've been given in service and with service to others. In service to justice and to do this work not in a way that we look down on other folks but we really are joining ourselves with those who are directly impacted by these issues. And so it was an amazing experience to have lived and grown up and to watch really. I so admire the ways in which my father is able to weave his deep Christian values rooted in liberation theology, rooted in the radical kind of tradition of Christianity with his strong sense for social justice and his passion for people. That's what I admire as quote, unquote, the higher up he gets, never loses that passion for people and the care for people. Before he was on this national platform he was a pastor and that pastoral care shines through in his leadership and the things he does and how he taught us to be in the world as well. It was remarkable with myself and my siblings and I really are fortunate to have him as our father and again, you know, again my mother also has been instrumental in helping us use our gifts. God has given us gifts to use in service to the larger humanity. It has been powerful and I have learned so much by watching the way he is, the way he is leading even in this moment. It's so important that voices like my father's are there to pull us together in a time where everything is trying to rip us apart. He recognizes that it's important for us in this moment to be moving forward together to really be tackling these issues in a way that looks at racism, poverty and ecological devastation. I learned so much from him and I still -- I guess I still learn even as an adult I learn so much from his words.

     >> JOYCE: Doesn't he have a new book out?

     >> He has so many I can't keep count. The one that did recently come out. It did recently come out. It was talking about some of his --

     >> JOYCE: The restoration of justice or something like that?

     >> Yeah.

     >> JOYCE: He has one. I think that's it. I could be wrong. I know one came out. He has so many books, that's it. Just go to William Barber and you'll have a lot of choices. But I really do admire him and I was on this first call with him. I could barely speak because I was in such awe of having him and now I also have you. What could be better than that?

     >> Oh, man, again, just appreciative of this space.

     >> JOYCE: Let me tell you, I have to talk about this. You were talking about what has happened recently and yes, your father was put in the forefront. First we have this absolutely heinous murder of George Floyd that was just -- you know, I said to someone, because of when I grew up, you know, I grew up in the 60s. And if you had moved the police car back and put white cloaks on those policemen it would look like a picture of the KLAN. It would look like one of those pictures it was so horrifying. And then what happens? Now we have this death -- this murder in Atlanta, which I can't imagine why someone would go from being in their car. They have had too much to drink, to shot in the back.

     >> Yeah.

     >> JOYCE: You know, all of this that's happening and I wanted your opinion on this because A, this has been going on since slavery, this racism. It is obviously not going away. And it is here. What has to happen in your opinion? What has to happen to see this change?

     >> Again, yeah, it's been a hard -- I want to step back and just reflect a little bit if you don't mind. It has really been hard. It's George Floyd, this new case in Atlanta. And sometimes I turn away from the news of it all because it is just so much. Breonna Taylor, Audrey. Another woman in Florida, 19-year-old girl that was murdered and it is just -- it's so many emotions. It is heartbreaking, it is infuriating, it is -- it is so much in this moment is what I'll say initially. And -- and in the midst of a pandemic, right, where we literally are seeing the levels of death in black communities, coupling those things together has been really overwhelming for so many of us. Many of my colleagues. I just want to mention an article that a colleague from the University of Minnesota, lead author, Dr. Rachel Hardiman and she wrote something in the "New England Journal of Medicine" called stolen breaths. It really just documents. She is from Minneapolis and knows the same street corner it happened on. She studies the link between racism and health outcomes. Again I know for her having grown up in that community it was really, really devastating. And so you ask me what do we do? Part of it is I don't know at this point. This viciousness and violence has been with us with the inception of this country. The birth of this country was built on violence. The genocide of Native American people at the very beginning, the enslavement of African peoples and the million else that were lost in the slave trade and thousands that have been lost -- were lost to Lynching and now police brutality is taking the lives of so many of our people. And it is hard because you wonder whether or not black lives matter, right? Whether or not there is this disregard for Black life that we can't overcome. And so it's been hard to watch. It has been hard to bear witness to. And, you know, I think a couple of things are necessary. One, there has to be a collective truth telling, right? The first step I think -- so many -- too many people, I think, are shocked that these things happen when we know this happens all the time. It is just not filmed, right? Right now it's not necessarily that it's more of it is happening than that it is now being recorded and posted on social media and being viewed by thousands of folks and millions of folks around the world. That's one thing is as a country, collectively, we have to do some real truth telling because unless you tell the truth about the violence that has pre-dated this current -- this current -- George Floyd's Lynching. Unless you are truthful about the policy violence, the literal deaths that have been caused at the hands of racial terror and white supremacy. Unless you are truthful about all of that we won't move forward. There is a truth telling that must happen. We have to name racism as fundamental to many of the problems that playing Black communities. We have to address it. This is a moment there must be a collective outcry that this is not okay. And that's what the protests really were. You had Black individuals but also allies on the street, still on the street decrying this level of violence and viciousness against Black folks. My father has said in the last few weeks this is gasping for air saying we have to be outraged and we need to show the world that anger, show the world that rage, show the world that this society is wounding us in so many areas. And I think that's another -- the protests. Even in the midst of the pandemic is necessary to show the world how painful this is and how we need to move forward. And then I do think that the poor people's campaign and what it attempts to do, where it addresses the interlocking systems of poverty, of racism, of ecological devastation, of the war economy, all of these things together and puts forth policy solutions is one of the ways forward to really transform this society, right? And it brings together those most directly impacted as the leaders of the movement. And so again, the collective truth telling, the collective rage and then the collective organizing and galvanizing and really moving and using this moment of grief, despair, rage, channeling that into a movement that really moves this country, this society to be better than what it is now. That's the only way things can happen. It happened with the civil rights movement. It happened in so many parts of our history. It has been social movement, people from the grassroots up saying enough is enough to really move our country forward in a way that actually values the lives of everybody in our society. That's what we need. That's why as a social epidemiologist I had to join with the movement because that was -- I felt like it is the only way forward. Especially now with all these killings it really for me is the only way forward for us in this moment.

     >> JOYCE: Yeah, because that's another one. Arbery that also looked in the terrible time when the KLAN would be out driving around. That was unbelievable. It was painful to watch. But it was -- it was like I'm tracking down this Black man. I'm going to find him and kill him. That's what it was like.

     >> Yeah, yes.

     >> JOYCE: And, you know what, listen, you know, love your neighbor as yourself without -- no edits. Not love your neighbor as yourself if you are White.

     >> Right, right, right.

     >> JOYCE: Love your neighbor as yourself if you're rich. Love your neighbor as yourself if you don't speak Spanish. I mean, I could keep going on and on but, you know, I say this to, you know, my fellow Christians, racism is a sin.

     >> It is. It is the original sin. The original sin of this nation. It is absolutely. Absolutely.

     >> JOYCE: Well, you know, a couple last questions before we go. One, for all of us, what advice do you have right now for people dealing with COVID? What is your opinion of what people should be doing?

     >> Yeah. So there are a couple of things. I think about these on what we personally have to do and then also what we collectively have to do. Personally again the pandemic is not over, as much as popular belief is such that we're kind of out there now and thinking oh, because we set a date for a state to reopen or to gradually reopen somehow the pandemic has left us. That's just not true. So the pandemic is still here and so as individuals, as families, just continuing to do the things to keep us well -- keep yourselves well and safe. And continuing the things that I've seen so many beautiful acts of kindness and love and compassion within communities, within the networks, those things have to continue. Again we're still in this pandemic and so again social distancing, staying at home as much as possible, wearing your mask, wearing things that protect you and protect others. Because again it is not just about us. All those things you still need to do as individuals. However, we know that that's not enough and we still need to be challenging at the local and state level and national level for there to be the kind of response that's necessary to get us all through this in a better place, right? And so continuing to pressure Congress. You need to continue to be advocating for a bill -- the next bill that comes through that it protects the most marginalized communities. We haven't done right by homeless folks or those in prison and in detention centers. We still haven't done right by the racially segregated communities in rural areas. I was on the phone with folks in the Mississippi delta. Lack of testing, lack of resources. Those things need to be addressed and we need to put the pressure on our elected officials to do what they need to do. If you can give trillions of dollars to corporations and banks, you can give the money necessary to people, to the workers, to those who are in poverty so that they can get through this pandemic as well. It is a shame, Joyce -- I cannot -- I get so livid every time I think about it that we put profits before people. And so this is a moment that we need to continue to demand that this government at every level does right by the most marginalized. That's another thing. We can't let up. Like the pandemic is still here. We can't let up. There are so many decisions that will have to be made moving forward as again we continue to see in some states cases beginning to surge again, right? And that kind of thing. So again, on a personal level, protect yourself as much as possible. Look out for those in your communities that need to be looked out for and collectively we still need to pressure our elected officials and those in power to do everything that they can to mitigate the impact this pandemic is having.

     >> JOYCE: I wrote a blog black lives matter and black disabled lives matter and at the very end I said you do have one thing that's very powerful. You can vote. You can vote.

     >> Absolutely. Absolutely.

     >> JOYCE: You know what? I tell people if you have to get people in a car and go pick up people, you know, once again what did you just say about racial inequality? Voter suppression, people not having access, same thing happens to people with disability. You go to vote and it is not accessible. You are in a wheelchair and you have to get upstairs. These are things that you really need to get involved with that political power to really make a difference. You really do. So --

     >> I'm with you. What I will say to that, too. What we're seeing is that health is political and again I always say that. People didn't understand why are you talking about politics and health? Because they're linked. And so we have to be engaged in the political process. We are seeing literally in this pandemic that who we vote in office is literally a matter of life and death. Who we vote into office not just at the top, the governor level and legislature level, U.S. Congress, who we put into power, who we give a voice to in these bodies, in these institutions is literally a matter of life and death. And so voting and so many of my ancestors, folks like Ella Baker and all these folks, they put their lives on the line for the right to vote. We need to be exercising that right in this election. We need to be -- and again at the level of the president and our U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, our state governors, our legislatures in the context of states. That's where decisions get made that can impact who lives and who dies. And so it is so important that we take the energy from these protests, that we take -- and we participate in the electoral process and continue to organize even when that's over as well. It can't be an either/or. Both/and in this moment. We desperately need to get this president out of office. I will say that on the record all day. He has literally caused so much death and despair in this country.

     >> JOYCE: Well hey, we know one thing, it is not a hoax. The pandemic is not a hoax and --

     >> Right, exactly.

     >> JOYCE: Well, I will just say this I bet your father doesn't hold the Bible upside down.

     >> Not at all. He actually reads it as well. Knows what's in it.

(Laughter)

     >> JOYCE: He reads it. It's not a Bible, it is his Bible.

     >> Correct.

     >> JOYCE: Justin Dart who was the general behind getting everyone together with the ADA and Yoshiko, I know you are listening. Hello to you also. Justin used to say vote as if your life depends upon it. Because it does. And in this case that quote of his vote as if your life depends upon it because it does is so true right now, isn't it?

     >> It is so true.

     >> JOYCE: It is so true. Just -- I wanted to ask you, I already think I know the answer. I was going to ask you, though, who is your role model. Maybe I don't know. Who is your role model?

     >> Yeah, I was pondering that question. Obviously my father is a role model of mine but I am the product of a Black woman's college. Bennett college in North Carolina. Many of role models, what we were told to call them was sheroes. Many are ancestors. Folks like fanny Lou, Ella Baker, because they chose to speak truth even when it was difficult. And I draw strength from those kinds of examples of strong Black women who dare to speak truth to power even when it's dangerous. Because they know their lives and the lives of their communities depend on it. I am also inspired by folks internationally. One person in particular is Brazilian politician who was assassinated in 2018 an hour after I was able to meet her at an event in Rio, Brazil. Her activism as a Black woman from Rio who stood and spoke with marginalized communities and made sure that those issues that impacted Black women and poor Black folks. Every 23 minutes in Brazil a young Black person is killed. She spoke out against those issues and gave her rights in some ways. She is one of my sheroes. She stood and spoke truth to power and her energy and spirit still lives on in many amazing Brazilian activists that I know and young adults who I see activated in this moment daring to speak up. Daring to speak truth to power. Daring to in this moment not let it pass and -- without speaking. And without holding folks accountable. Those young folks, those young people are my heroes and sheroes. Absolutely, you know, so yeah, that's kind of long answer to your question. I have so many and admire so many folks.

     >> JOYCE: That was a great -- I am going to end with a quote by Dr. Barber. We'll have you back on again because this was too short of a time period and everyone wants to hear you again. But we do end every show with a quote and here it is, folks. When religion is used to camouflage meanness we know we have a heart problem in America said bishop William Barber. This is Joyce Bender, America's voice where disability matters at Voice America.com. Make sure you go to that poor people's campaign March and get involved. Go to it. It is digital this Saturday and we'll have Dr. Barber on again. Talk to you next week. Join us next Tuesday at 11:00 on the Voice America variety channel. The leader in talk radio. Voice America.com.