COVID-19, Racism and Public Health

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 9:30am to Saturday, May 1, 2021 - 9:30am

This 1- credit course, offered through the Global Studies Center and co-sponsored by the Department of Africana Studies, offers an opportunity for students to learn about the compounding effects of multiple forms of inequality or disadvantage and how they impact COVID-19 exposure, cases, and deaths.  The obstacles that inequalities create may not be easily discernible or understood by looking at or thinking about racism, health and now the impact of COVID-19, among African Americans, in a conventional way. You cannot change outcomes without understanding the causes or how they come about. The pandemic has exposed systemic racial inequalities in the U.S. health delivery system. Why are African Americans and other people of color being hit hard by COVID-19? In this class, we will read pertinent literature and discuss racial issues including what it means to be a person of color in the U.S. during a pandemic. We will focus on pre-existing conditions, essential workers, structural inequities, and how social determinants of health are influenced by implicit bias and racial discrimination. Please view the syllabus for further details.

*This is a Pass/Fail class. To pass this course, students are expected to complete all assignments and attend all sessions.*


Fapohunda Ph.D
Dr. Fapohunda teaches part-time in the department of Africana Studies. She was a visiting assistant professor of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences for two years at the University Of Pittsburgh Graduate School Of Public Health. Over the past 7 years, she has conducted several studies among African Americans, Africans in the Diaspora and on the African Continent. The focus of her research is “Healthy Community for Black Immigrants” in Allegheny County and “Cancer Awareness in Lagos, Nigeria”. She is a trained epidemiologist and health educator with over seventeen years’ experience of running her consulting company and being in public health, conducting needs assessments and program evaluation on the effectiveness of numerous community-based initiatives related to health disparities in both behavioral and physical health, including nutrition, smoking cessation, HIV/AIDS and oral health.

Week 1

Introduction to Course/Overview of COVID Statistics

Week 2

The Race GAP: Black// White. Reuters Graphics

Week 3

Review of Social Determinants of Health 

Week 4

Myths, Misinformation and Mistrust

Week 5

Racial Segregation and the Legacy of Redlining

Week 6

Occupation, Education, Housing, Wealth Gap and Income Disparities

Week 7

The Impact of Systemic Racism in Healthcare: Healthcare Access and Utilization

Week 8

Impact of Comorbidities. Why those comorbidities exist in the first place.

Week 9

What COVID-19 Job Losses Reveal About Racism in America week 10 Workers of Color on the Frontlines

Week 11

Mental Health Impact on People of Color

Week 12

Culturally Sensitive Communication Week 13 Lessons Learned about COVID-19

Week 14 -Final Presentation - Proposal

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh's Global Studies Center and the Department of Africana Studies