Los Angeles — More Than A Vote and The Springhill Company are teaming up with Spotify Original podcast hosts Jemele Hill and Bakari Sellers to deliver a 2-episode special on the COVID-19 pandemic and healthcare disparities in the Black community.
While a great deal of media coverage has highlighted hesitancy toward taking the COVID vaccines within the Black community, the vast majority of coverage has failed to center Black voices with the cultural competency necessary to unpack the phenomenon and has lacked a fuller examination of the current barriers to the nation’s healthcare system that Black Americans still disproportionately face.
Jemele Hill and Bakari Sellers, across their respective podcasts, will feature an episode titled “The Shot: History, Hesitancy and Hope?” that will simplify and digest what can seem like a difficult conversation by asking experts and historians the questions relevant to Black culture and providing honest answers that educate both apprehensive members of the community and mainstream audiences grappling with the current inequities in our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These special episodes will provide what is missing from the public conversation: a real, no-frills analysis from trusted voices of the current state of vaccine distribution and healthcare put in the proper historical and cultural context without the naming and shaming that too often is at the center of the current public discourse from two beloved podcasters whose mission is to provide equitable facts for their listeners.
“Connecting the tissue between historical and present-day racial disparities is my responsibility as a journalist and it seems as if too much of the vaccination conversation is not centered on the understandable distrust that black people have of our country’s medical system,” said journalist Jemele Hill. “I’m thrilled to be partnering with More Than A Vote to lay out the important issues around the vaccine and frame the conversation in a more introspective way.”
“It is a fact that the pandemic has disproportionately impacted the Black and brown communities, and I’ve been honored to have such luminaries on the podcast whose work is to dismantle these disparities,” said podcaster Bakari Sellers. “Partnering with More Than a Vote is an extension of that work. I’m excited to dive even deeper and hear from scholars and experts, and provide facts about vaccines that are informative and thoughtful to our community.”
Part 1, hosted on Jemele Hill Is Unbothered, will provide historical context on the often-discussed hesitancy toward the COVID-19 vaccines within the Black community and examine the mistrust many Black Americans have to the often racist American healthcare system throughout our nation’s history. Hill’s episode will discuss the throughline between the historical injustices in healthcare and the present day barriers to access that Black communities face during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Part 2, hosted on The Ringer’s Bakari Sellers Podcast, will explore the current state of the COVID vaccines, the black leaders who helped develop them, and review the early efforts to distribute the vaccines nationally with a particular examination of how efforts to reach marginalized communities are falling short — topics that Sellers has begun to explore in recent episodes of Bakari Sellers Podcast. Both episodes will direct listeners to resources so that they are able to make decisions based on facts rather than the misinformation that too often targets Black communities.
“While Black Americans are no more skeptical of taking the COVID vaccines than any other population group, those who are hesitant have an incredible amount of history to point toward to justify their position,” said More Than A Vote Chief Communications and Content Officer Michael Tyler. “Our goal is to fully unpack that history and demonstrate that even as vaccine distribution hits full speed, the racist nature of the American healthcare system is not a relic of the past but a current burden that stands in the way of justice for our community and a full and equitable recovery from the current pandemic.”
The limited series comes this Spring as the Biden Administration has directed states, Tribes, and territories to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine no later than May 1st.
This Spring is crucial in the nation’s efforts to protect the public health of Americans against the COVID-19 virus and, in particular, Black Americans and communities who have suffered disproportionately from the pandemic. But while multiple vaccines have been approved are being distributed, many Black Americans and young Americans remain reluctant to receive the vaccine and — for those who decide to receive it — are less likely to have access to it while being subject to more environmental risk factors relative to their white counterparts. This threatens to not only perpetuate the COVID public health crisis for longer than necessary in Black communities, but could lead to worsening inequality in the years and decades to come.
Our intention to have Black scholars, scientists, doctors, community leaders (and some of you!) as part of the real-talk discussion, and to release in late April/early May as the COVID-19 vaccine becomes broadly available to all adults
This podcast special is part of Spotify’s larger global campaign encouraging its consumers to make an educated decision on the COVID-19 vaccines: through creating original podcast episodes to raise awareness and connect listeners with credible information, donating pro-bono ad space to distribute trustworthy vaccine information, and providing listeners with up to date vaccine content on the COVID-19 Guide hub.