On Friday, WGBH News' Callie Crossley joined Boston Public Radio to give her take on comments made last week by U.S Surgeon General Jerome Adams.
At a White House press conference last Friday, Adams said Black and Latino communities needed to “step up,” by cutting back on alcohol and tobacco use as a way to limit the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"What he did was suggest that certain personal behaviors [are] the reason why there were higher numbers in the community,” Crossley said. "And that’s simply not true."
She continued, saying Adams and other Trump administration officials "do not address the structural inequities that of course lead to, for example, dense neighborhoods that don’t allow for social distancing.” She pointed to inadequate health resources that "lead to people [having] certain kinds of preexisting conditions — and on, and on, and on.”
Adam's statements also included language that some called pandering, asking for Americans of color to “do it for your grandaddy,” “big mama,” and “abuela.”
When Adams, who is Black, was asked to respond to critics, he clarified himself by acknowledging the structural racism that makes communities of color more predisposed to catching the coronavirus, as well as "a higher incidence of the very diseases that put you at risk for severe complications” of COVID-19.
Crossley said Adams could've avoided the backlash “if he had said — and he started off kind of going in the direction, [of] ‘Hey, I have this inhaler, I use it because … I grew up in a situation where I had more exposure to certain kinds of particulates.”
"But to begin by saying somehow the COVID-19 infection spread and death among Latinos and African-Americans had to do with drugs, tobacco, and alcohol really sent people over the edge,” she said.
“It just didn’t sit well.”