By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor
If you have but one wish, let it be for an idea.
– Percy Sutton
“Whenever life doesn’t seem to give an answer we create one,” said the late famed dramatist Lorraine Hansberry. She was speaking of the brilliant inventiveness of the human mind and spirit.
Hansberry’s illustrious words are also germane to Tina Butts and The Movement’s creative response to COVID-19’s ongoing impacts on Toledo’s black community. The indefatigable activist has reached out to the minority community and placed approximately 10,000 shots in arms as part of a local equity vaccination project.
Hospitalizations and infection rates associated with the coronavirus have recently surged to dangerous levels in Lucas County. Yet, the number of people receiving vaccines has suddenly fallen off, causing the supply for vaccinations to exceed the demand by nearly tenfold in some instances. Increasing vaccine hesitancy is taking root, particularly in Black and other communities of color, despite the presence of prominent Black scientists and activists at every step of the COVID-19 response.
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett with the NIH Vaccine Research Center is credited by Dr. Anthony Fauci for leading the development of the Moderna vaccine. Dr. Tomeka Suber, a pulmonologist and expert in acute respiratory distress syndrome, is also on the front lines of the COVID battle. Dr. Christopher Barnes, a post-doctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology is also a leader on the pandemic’s front. Barnes led the team that captured the first-ever images of antibodies, purified from the blood plasma of people who recovered from COVID-19, according to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).
Yet, homicides are at record levels. Mass shootings occur on a nearly daily basis. Hate crimes surge; mental health worsens; jobs disappear, and food insecurity deepens. All interconnected with the pandemic’s devastating impact on the Black community and related racial disparities in health care.
Butts is attempting to redress these issues by locally leading the way to improve access to vaccinations in the Black community dramatically. However, there is a gap between the availability of resources and her ability to access those resources.
It appears as though Sean Savage and the V Project have contributed funds to enable Butts to begin a door-to-door neighborhood campaign to increase vaccinations.
The promised funding will pay for 20 canvassers at $15/hour, plus two supervisors and a coordinator. Funds are also needed to provide food, music, and other resources to create an exciting cultural experience in the community that people will come to.
The campaign will then go door-to-door with a mobile vaccine unit and set up stations at barber and beauty shops, food markets, and other community venues.
Also planned is an instant vaccination center at the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union where shots are accessible on demand without a prior appointment.
Yet, more resources are necessary to ensure that COVID-19 does not continue to burden or restrict black access to care disproportionately.
Please petition City and County government leaders and elected officials to participate by providing the necessary funding.
A major pat on the back goes out to Tina Butts of the Movement for her creative and culturally relevant COVID-19 and health equity response!
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at email@example.com