Covid-19 Across Africa & Its Diaspora

Globally, communities of African descent have been the casualties of colonialism and imperialism. This has created grave social, political, and economic consequences. Nowhere is this better evidenced than in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people of African descent. Themes that will be explored in this series are the politics, public health, gendered effects, along with the survival and vitality of the Black church. This series relates to the TRC’s mission of transformation of individuals, communities, and systems of oppression.

The Series begins October 18-November 8.

Through four webinars, the series will take a deep dive into the devastating impact of Covid-19 on communities of African descent.

The titles are:
1) Public Health and Covid-19; Oct 18th 
2) The Gendered Effects of Covid-19; Oct 25th
3) The Politics of Covid-19; Nov 1st
4) Covid-19 and the Survival and Vitality of the Black Church. Nov 8th

Each webinar will feature expert panelists who will give cutting edge analyses, and propose solutions. The webinar will include breakout sessions and Q&A. Drawing on studies by scholars, activists, multilateral organizations, and NGOs, as well as the experiences of ordinary Africans on the Continent and her diaspora, the panel will inform, educate, suggest solutions, and encourage collective organized action for restorative justice.

Click here to register

A Public Health Crisis:  Covid-19 Across the African Diaspora

October 18, 1:30 p.m., Zoom

The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control states that in the U.S. Long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put some members of racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe illness, regardless of age. Among some racial and ethnic minority groups, including non-Hispanic black persons, Hispanics and Latinos, and American Indians/Alaska Natives, evidence points to higher rates of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 than among non-Hispanic white persons. However, for those of African descent, these “long-standing systemic health and social inequities exist across the diaspora.”

With this public health crisis in mind, The Riverside Church African Fellowship has created a forum to discuss these issues. This one, focusing on Public Health is the first of the four-part series dealing with Covid’s impact throughout Africa and its diaspora. The Forum aims to:

  • ascertain the extent of the public health crisis resulting from Covid-19 among people of African descent in four regions: the African continent, the United States, the Caribbean, and Latin America;
  • identify micro and macrosystems producing this crisis;
  • identify resources public health institutions need;
  • propose solutions for reducing the burden of disease.

PANELISTS Click here to see full bios.
Yemi Abioye, M.PH.
Patricia Dasilva, Ph.D.
Joy St. John, Ph.D.
Jonathan Perez, Ph.D.


Gendered Effects of Covid-19

October 25, 1:30 p.m., Zoom

Whether it is in terms of economic dislocations, or infections, or deaths, the pandemic has disproportionately affected people of African descent in the Diaspora. Approximately 40%of those infected are women. The World Health Organization, says that “Humanitarian crises, including health emergencies, affect men and women differently. As COVID-19 continues to spread in Africa, there are concerns over its impact on women and girls, with vulnerabilities feared to worsen as the pandemic overwhelms health systems. Women in particular have the burden of making ends meet when their primary employment is in the informal economy.

A majority of African women lack adequate social protection.  Having people under lockdown or quarantine conditions to reduce the prospect of infections has increased families’ connectedness as well as creating more work for women, whose workload has increased because most are primarily responsible for childcare, childrearing, elder care, and care for sick and recovering members of the family. Children being educated remotely may be mostly supervised by female members of the family. As well, domestic violence and intimate partner violence, rape, and sexual harassment have spiked in the era of COVID-19. So have incidences of rape and sexual harassment. The effects are psychosomatic and emotional..”

This panel will:

  • glean insights from scholars, activists, multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations, and experiences of ordinary people;
  • based on such insights, inform, educate, and encourage action.

PANELISTS Click here to see full bios.

Dr. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome (Moderator)
Andrea  White, Ph.D.
Maricel Mena Lopez,  Ph.D
Afia Sakiya, Ph.D.,
Wangui Wa Goro, Ph.D.


The Politics of Covid-19

November 1, 1:30 p.m., Zoom

As far as it is known, the current coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan, China. However, while China has received international praise for its stellar handling of the virus, the initial attempt by Wuhan officials to it up has been only one of a series of local and global events that have raised questions about the role of politics in contributing to and maintaining the spread of the virus. The specter of politics surfaced again when, President Donald Trump, in the middle of the global pandemic, withdrew $62 million dollars from of the budget of the World Health Organization, 22 percent of this budget,  affecting its ability to aid global communities most impacted by the spread of the virus. – giving the reason that politically speaking, the WHO would not distance itself from China.

The question of politics was surfacing again, during the Summer of 2020, when the upcoming release of Bob Woodward’s book suggested that President Trump knew about the potentially lethal virus long before he approved of information being released to the public. In retrospect, culminating, that the composing of the publicity for this flyer, with scenes of the President, infected with the virus, tweeting while quarantined, that his aids are to cease negotiating for a new stimulus package until after he wins the election. Images of President Trump speaking before huge crowds of people in his unmasked support base, and, though infected and unmasked, fraternizing with supporters at the White House.

Parallel to these developments and alongside an escalation of police killings of African Americans, came the stark reality of the disproportionate impact on people of African American communities, and people of color in general, and the role of politics in perpetuating the systemic racism that resulted in their vulnerability.  However, like the virus, though initial quiet, began to peak throughout the continent of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and as the realities of disproportionate impacts of people throughout the world became apparent, the role of politics at both the local and global levels became suspect.

It is the purpose of this webinar panel discussion to closely scrutinize the roles of both global and local politics and their impacts on the contours of the current global pandemic on the continent of Africa and throughout its diaspora.

PANELISTS Click here to see full bios.

Tunde Abyole Cole (Moderator)
Joseph Duggan, Ph.D., M.Div.
Esther Eghonbamien MSheila, Ph.D.
Nicolas Panotto, Ph.D.


Covid-19 and the Survival and Vitality of the Black Church

November 8, 1:30 p.m., Zoom

The disproportionate number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 among peoples of color is now well-documented in the United States. Intersectionality of gender, class, and age is now also well documented. While there have been numerous studies on the economic impact of COVID on communities of color in general, there are far fewer studies on its impact on the present and future survival of Black churches on the African continent and throughout the African diaspora.

Those studies that do exist are painting a picture of a “new normal” for historic Black churches both independent and subsumed within predominantly non-Black church denominations.  Studies indicate that the lack of in-person church services, loss of major pastoral, lay, and denominational figures to COVID, and decline in revenue may all threaten the survival of Black churches, particularly those with smaller numbers of members.  The gravity of the situation has also become a basis for theologians to inquire into how this “new normal” is likely to shape the nature of the Black church itself and the future contours of Black Theology. This becomes especially interesting as comparisons and contrasts are made between churches on the Continent and throughout the African diasporas.

This webinar is the fourth in a series that begins on October 18, 2020. This specific section will take place on November 8.  For more details about the entire series, see the attached flyer.

Panelists will explore the above issues as they relate to the Church in the United States, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, with a general overview, then a more specific focus within each category.  For more information about each panelist, click on the link below

This is one of four webinars that will be digitized and made available for the purpose of stimulating further discussion, research, and social justice activism.

PANELISTS Click here to see full bios.

Colleen Birchett, Ph.D. (Moderator)
Andrea White, Ph.D.
Allan Boesak, Ph.D.
Claudio Cavahaes, Ph.D.