By: Marcus Paul
Chance the Rapper, DJ Khaled and Kelly Rowland are taking part in a BET special aimed at raising coronavirus relief funds to aid the growing number of black communities being affected. The “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” broadcast special will air at 7 pm, April 22 on BET. The virtual benefit concert will be hosted by fan-favorite BET host Terrence J, Kelly Rowland, and Regina Hall.
BET Network President Scott Mills says, “BET is using all of our resources – our capital, our media platforms, our relationships with the creative community, sponsors, business, and charitable organizations to support our community in this time of crisis.” The network recently partnered with the NAACP for a virtual CNN Town Hall where they discussed mental health, financial struggles and appropriate responses from the government to help minorities during the crisis. Listen to the Town Hall here: Unmasked: A COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall Series – April 8
The BET benefit will include virtual guest appearances and performances from Charlie Wilson, Kirk Franklin, Chance the Rapper, and several others. Celebrities will give up-to-date information and drive viewers to needed resources during this unprecedented time. “Every day, there are new reports of how this pandemic is killing African Americans at much higher rates than other communities,” said Scott Mills.
Information about COVID-19 victims is slowly being released, but early data shows that African-Americans are dying at a higher rate than other Americans. The Associated Press reported that African-Americans account for 42 percent of COVID-19 deaths, where race data is known. In Chicago, about 68% of the city’s deaths have involved African Americans, who only make up about 30% of Chicago’s total population.
COVID-19 is most dangerous in people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or high blood pressure. The African American community has struggled with these health problems for generations due to unemployment and inadequate access to healthcare. African Americans also rely on public transportation, or live in multi-family homes with multiple people, putting them at greater risk of contracting the disease.
Diane Lauderdale, Chair of the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Chicago told the Chicago Tribune, “It does appear that there is either a greater risk of infection or a greater risk of death once infected, or both. But given current data, we don’t know what it is.”