If Barring White People From Getting The Monkeypox Shot Isn’t Racism, What Is It?

The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) hosted monkeypox vaccine pop-up clinics in the city’s South of Market region earlier this month. A flyer for the event, posted on the SFDPH official Twitter account, stated that in order to be eligible for the free shot, participants must “belong to one of the following priority populations: Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Person of Color, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or a Current Sex Worker (all genders and orientations).”

San Francisco Department of Health Twitter posting

The department’s recent budget was nearly $2.4 billion. Despite being local to San Francisco, SFDPH derives well over half of its revenue ($1.2 billion) from state and federal taxes.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that “no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, national origin, handicap, religion, or sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

How are the actions by SFDPH not in violation of this law?

Defying Logic

California has always been at the bleeding edge of progressivism, San Francisco even more so, and I could understand if the eligibility were granted solely on the basis of sexual orientation, given that data published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) show monkeypox cases are overwhelmingly isolated to LGBT people, with gay and bisexual males accounting for more than 90 percent of statewide cases. But why include the racial requirement?

According to the CDPH dataset, cases in whites far exceed those found in people of other skin colors, with whites representing 34 percent of statewide cases, whereas cumulative cases in African Americans, Asians, and American Indians account for just 19 percent. Morality aside, barring heterosexual white people from receiving a free shot is not supported on statistical grounds.

Thankfully, the spread of monkeypox is unlikely to become a crisis, with .01 percent of California’s population having reported a case and only one death in the entire country. Thus, few are likely to be affected by this minor instance of discrimination. That being said, the action by the SFDPH is not an isolated incident.

Race-Based Care Elsewhere

In the latter half of 2021, as alternative Covid-19 treatments such as Paxlovid and monoclonal antibodies became widely available, some states created “Covid risk-factor scores” to calculate an individual’s medical risks and prioritize treatment for patients with the highest scores. States such as Utah and Minnesota added a racial element by awarding risk points for those of “non-White race or Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity.”

After a lawsuit in New York brought a similar law under scrutiny, Utah and Minnesota removed ethnicity from their list of Covid risk factors. Despite this, the SFDPH continues to march on with an even more restrictive policy, given there is no priority granted to the elderly or those with medical ailments. Hypothetically, if a 70-year-old straight white man with a preexisting health condition were to show up to the South of Market clinic, according to the department’s flyer, he would be turned away.

Certainly, some ethnic groups as a whole have experienced a higher overall Covid mortality than others. However, this is not due to vulnerabilities inherent to race and is instead a consequence of economic disparities. An income threshold would be more sensible.

Housing Discrimination

Just this past August, a student housing co-op at the University of California, Berkeley made the news when it was reported by the New York Post that the co-op’s house rules stated, “White guests are not allowed in common spaces.” One mixed-race resident’s white father was purportedly prohibited from entering the house.

A representative of UC Berkeley said in response to the matter, “it is not campus operated. This property is operated by a private landlord, and it is not the role of the campus to comment on what private landlords are ‘allowed’ to do.” Quite a laissez faire attitude from the university that believes that “becoming anti-racist is a core tenet of the American creed.”

While the entity that owns the housing complex, Berkeley Student Cooperative, is not affiliated with the government nor the university, it is filed as a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning it’s exempt from federal income tax. Yet another example of federally subsidized racism.

These ideas are unnecessarily divisive and unscientific, afflicting lower-income white men and women the most. Why are so-called progressives determined to enact policies that pit lower class groups against one another?

Achieving equity by imposing repressive means on the “privileged” classes is not a virtuous pursuit. If you decrease the quality of health care for one group without necessarily increasing it for another, then what have you really accomplished? If equity means a lower standard of living for everyone, then I want no part in it nor do I, as a San Francisco business owner, want my taxes funding it.


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