The Pandemic Divide: How COVID Increased Inequality in America

Duke Univ. Nov. 2022. 328p. ed. by Gwendolyn L. Wright & others. ISBN 9781478018537. pap. $27.95. SOC SCI
This collection of 11 essays analyzes the disparities Black Americans have experienced throughout the COVID pandemic within housing, religious practice, the labor market, small business growth and ownership, and primary and secondary education. The editors clearly state that their analysis begins with the premise that systemic racism hinders growth in the U.S., while acknowledging that gender and class, as well as the cultural experiences of other groups (Hispanic, Latino, Asian) require further study. This focused exploration of the Black experience is best expressed in Chapter 6, “Race, Entrepreneurship, and COVID-19: Black Small-Business Survival in Prepandemic and Postpandemic America,” where the loss of income, opportunity, and potential among Black Americans is glaringly evident and serves as a complement for those who have read Heather McGhee’s The Sum of Us. The deep scholarship within this collection codifies the notion that everyone is working together for the common good is only true for some of America’s citizens. Each essay concludes with solid, measured suggestions and outcomes for change that aim to rectify the current losses and create future gains.
VERDICT Required, essential reading for Americans trying to reconcile their pandemic experiences.
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