Beyoncé's 'One World' Speech Called Attention To COVID-19's Impact On Black Americans

by Jessica Wang

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the globe, Beyoncé made a surprise appearance on One World: Together at Home on April 18 alongside celebrities, health experts, and world leaders. During the virtual event curated by Lady Gaga and Global Citizen, Beyoncé shared a message that highlighted COVID-19’s disproportionate death toll on Black Americans due to social disparities in health care, as well as other systemic factors.

After she thanked healthcare workers “who are away from their families, taking care of ours” — as well as essential workers in the food, mail, and sanitation industries — Beyoncé acknowledged the racial gap of COVID-19 and said, "Black Americans disproportionately belong to these essential parts of the workforce that do not have the luxury of working from home, and African American communities at large have been severely affected in this crisis."

The “Formation” singer then cited reports from her hometown of Houston, Texas that said Black Americans make up 57% of COVID-19 deaths in Houston when they only make up 22.5% of the population. "This virus is killing Black people at an alarmingly high rate here in America," Beyoncé continued. “Please protect yourselves. We are one family and we need you. We need your voices, your abilities, and your strength all over this world."

At a coronavirus task force briefing on April 7, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, similarly addressed the inequities and said “health disparities have always existed for the African American community.” Fauci said, “When all this is over and, as we said, it will end, we will get over coronavirus, but there will still be health disparities which we really do need to address in the African American community.”

According to recent nationwide data from the CDC, 30% of COVID-19 patients in the U.S. are African American when African Americans make up about 13% of the population. Per various analyses, these disparities within the Black community are often connected to types of jobs that vary by race, access to health care or lack thereof, and historically higher rates of underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Beyoncé’s timely message comes after she made a surprise cameo on ABC’s Disney Family Singalong on April 16 and performed Pinocchio’s “When You Wish Upon a Star.” She said after the performance, “Please hold on to your families tight. Please be safe. Don’t give up hope. We’re gonna get through this, I promise.”

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and coughing, call NHS 111 in the UK or visit the CDC website in the U.S. for up-to-date information and resources. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here, and UK-specific updates on coronavirus here.