Timothy Nerozzi, Washington Examiner, September 22, 2021
Black Lives Matter activists have turned on New York City’s leadership over what they claim are racist COVID-19 vaccine requirements.
Mayor Bill De Blasio has aggressively pushed a “vaccine passport” system that bars entry to restaurants, gyms, and other public places without proof of COVID-19 inoculation. But with black residents lagging the overall population in vaccinations, the rules are disproportionately affecting a minority group usually in step with Democratic policies. The schism came to a head on Monday, when Black Lives Matter of Greater New York launched a protest outside a restaurant where enforcement of the policy sparked a melee.
Hawk Newsome is a black activist and co-founder of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York — one of the many prominent Black Lives Matter organizations outside the hierarchy of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. He founded the group with his sister, Chivona Newsome. Both siblings spoke at the Monday protest, where Hawk accused the city of using vaccination requirements to run cover for its “racist ways” and “discrimination.”
Newsome spoke with the Washington Examiner about the difficulties vaccine-hesitant blacks are facing in the era of medical passports.
“We are not anti-vaxxers. Some of us are vaccinated,” Newsome said of his group. “It’s an individual’s choice. No one should be forced to put something in their body.”
The number of black residents in New York City who have not been vaccinated is drastically disproportionate to other racial groups. More than 70% of black people in New York City aged 18 to 44 have not gotten the injection — a statistic touted by Chivona at the Monday protest. There is a variety of reasons for the lag in shots, including religious beliefs and distrust of the government.
“It’s black people who have a natural distrust of the vaccine,” Newsome said. He cited the Tuskeegee Syphilis Study as an example of historic exploitation of black people by the U.S. medical community, despite the fact that vaccines are accessible to people of all racial groups.
BLMGNY is advocating for the complete abolition of vaccine requirements, not only in the city but also on a national level.
“I think, in a perfect world, [vaccine requirements] should be business by business. But it could be a slippery slope, so the mandate should be removed completely,” Newsome said, adding, “It’s not gonna be white men in suits on Wall Street who are gonna get stopped. There’s such hypocrisy in this thing.”