Lead: Professor Anthony Hatch
This project will be featured as part of the 2022 Robin M. Williams Distinguished Lecture from the Eastern Sociological Association.
The Trump regimes’ governance of COVID-19 data archives has become a front and center issue in the battle against racial health injustice. The production of racialized health data is a necessary feature of an antiracism because we must generate a metric that is legible to the racial state. Data can force a reckoning with racial injustice, but sometimes that reckoning can be a liberal fantasy. Has this archive of racialized health data has led to the meaningful reduction or elimination of a single racial health disparity, ever? The standard assumption is that health injustice would be worse if not for the data. This lecture challenges this assumption in the case of COVID-19 by asking if the production and circulation of COVID-19 racial data strengthened anti-Black racism in the United States? This paper interprets the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of Afropessimism which provides a framework for reconciling the contradictions between racial health disparities research and racial necropolitics. Anti-racist health scholars must be willing to question the institutional practices and foundational assumptions that produce and uphold their object of study and to confront the modalities of racial capitalism and racist government that require Black death and the illusions of numeracy.