Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) drew a connection on Thursday between COVID-19 and slavery.
Wait, are you serious?
Speaking on the House floor to encourage her colleagues to support reparations, Jackson Lee said her plea is not "accusatory" but about "reconciliation," "restoration," and "repair."
Then her speech went off the rails.
"It stands on the basis of facts. There is no doubt we have been impacted, that DNA in the trajectory of slavery to today," she said.
"For example in COVID," she continued. "Black African-Americans got COVID at a rate of nearly 1.5x higher than that of white people, or hospitalized at a rate of nearly 4x higher and 3x likely to die. COVID hit us very desperately."
Jackson Lee then cited a study from Harvard Medical School and claimed that "reparations for African-Americans could have cut COVID-19 transmission and infection rate, both among blacks and the population at large."
"Reparations are curative; they’re not punishment," she declared.
Jackson Lee is the sponsor of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. The bill was first introduced into Congress by Democrat John Conyers in 1989.
The bill only cleared committee one time, in April 2021.
Is Jackson Lee right?
While a racial disparity was observed in the early days of the COVID pandemic, during which black and Hispanic Americans were hit harder by the virus than white Americans, that is no longer true.
In fact, the Washington Post recently analyzed COVID-19 deaths in America. Early in the pandemic, deaths "were concentrated in dense urban areas, where black people died at several times the rate of white people," the analysis found.
But that has changed completely.
The Post explained:
Over time, the gap in deaths widened and narrowed but never disappeared — until mid-October 2021, when the nation’s pattern of COVID mortality changed, with the rate of death among white Americans sometimes eclipsing other groups.
A Post analysis of COVID death data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from April 2020 through this summer found the racial disparity vanished at the end of last year, becoming roughly equal. And at times during that same period, the overall age-adjusted death rate for white people slightly surpassed that of black and Latino people.
Jackson Lee did not mention the Post's analysis.