2021 Bissell-Heyd Public Research Event: “Racisms in the United States” – Session 2: “Survival of Indigenous and Communities of Color in Los Angeles During a Global Pandemic and Ongoing Racial Violence”

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Thursday, March 18th, 2021

Thursday, March 18, 20211:00PM - 2:00PMOnline Event, Online Event
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2021 Bissell-Heyd Public Research Event:
“Racisms in the United States”

Event Info:
Perhaps in more pertinent ways than any other time in recent memory, the power of globalization and how it intersects with race is at full display. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that what happens in a faraway land does not stop at its borders but can produce domino effects, forceful enough to lock down almost the entire world. Immigrants, long been singled-out as disease carriers, have once again been blamed for the world’s pandemics. The coronavirus originating in China, this time xenophobia has turned its gaze on immigrants of Asian descent. At the same time, the world is witnessing massive protests against anti-Black racism in the U.S. echo across countries as far-flung as Canada, France, Great Britain, India and Ethiopia, showing that such domino effects are not just produced as a result of once-in- a-lifetime epidemiological crises but also because of sociopolitical dynamics that have long percolated in our societies. These events highlight how the age-old colour line that still divides an “us” from a “them” are challenging America’s identity as a nation.

This webinar series hosts a panel of distinguished scholars to situate the ongoing conversations on race, migration, and nationalism in today’s global context to discuss how racisms—such as, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant sentiments, anti-Blackness, and settler colonialisms—all work together to produce systemic racial disparities in the United States and abroad. The event is open for free to the public. Please register to receive a Zoom link for each session.

Session 2 Theme: Racisms in Public Health: What Pandemics Teach About Racial Disparities

Title of Presentation: “Indigenous and Communities of Color Survival in Los Angeles in the Times of a Global Pandemic and in the Wake of Ongoing Racial Violence”

In the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic has made the disproportionate outcomes of health isparities among Indigenous and communities of color clear. To be Indigenous, Black, and Latinx marks you for death twice as much than that of whites. In Los Angeles County, one of the most populated counties in the US, it has now been ten months since city officials first declared quarantine on March 29, 2020. Nine months have passed since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. We have witnessed how people themselves have re-organized, strategized, copped, and suffered loved ones losses at an incredible rate never seen in recent times. The lack of affordable healthcare and cultural awareness of medical professionals, especially towards Indigenous Oaxacans, puts them at a higher risk of exposure, contracting, re-occurance, or dying from COVID at an alarming scale. Making matters worse, on Christmas Day, South LA and its major hospital were declared “on the edge of catastrophe” as it streams with patients (New York Times 2020). How is one of the most populated neighborhoods, in the most populous states, where Indigenous, Black, and Latina/os together make up an overwhelming 95% facing the challenges? This talk considers how Indigenous and communities of color, have been affected by the pandemic, and how they have collectively responded to each other when the US settler state continues to fail them.

Speaker Bio:
Dr. Brenda Nicolas (Zapotec) received her PhD in Chicana/o and Central American Studies from UCLA. Her work looks at the transborder communal experiences of Zapotec diasporas in Los Angeles. Specifically, she looks at women’s and adult children of migrants’ participation in community sociocultural and political organizing to contest settler colonial logics of Indigenous erasure. Dr. Nicolas is the recipient of several fellowships. She was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her book project is titled Transborder Comunalidad: Gendering Practices of Belonging and Identity Across Settler Colonial Borders.


Mio Otsuka


Brenda Nicolas
Assistant Professor, Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies, Loyola Marymount University

Tahseen Shams
Assistant Professor of Sociology, 2020-21 Bissell-Heyd Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of the United States, University of Toronto

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