Two pandemics emerged during the height of the COVID-19 virus last year. As a startling number of cases began to surge across the U.S, Black American’s were disproportionately impacted by the virus, suffering a number of devastating complications and dying at 2x the rate of white and non-Hispanic communities, the CDC notes.
What made the pandemic even deadlier for Black Americans is the health care system’s incompetencies and inherent racism when treating patients of color. Filmmaker Crystal R. Emery explores the topic in her new documentary “The Deadliest Disease in America,” which will make its debut on Sept. 10 at New York’s Cinema Village.
In the film, Emery gives viewers a harrowing look back at the history of racism in the American healthcare system, from the gruesome medical experiments that were often forced upon enslaved people to the modern-day inequality in fatality rates. The documentary exposes America’s issue with racial healthcare disparities and strives to uncover why millions of Black Americans struggled to receive adequate treatment during the height of the pandemic.
As of July 14, 2021, there have been 607,393 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the US. Of those deaths, 233,134 were people of color, data from the doc’s presskit suggests.
The story hits close to home for the Connecticut filmmaker. An ambassador for the Association For The Advancement of Science, Emery has faced biases and discrimination from the healthcare system as an African American woman living as a quadriplegic and battling diabetes. Emery’s painful experiences are interwoven throughout accounts from several different patients who have also been victimized by healthcare inequalities.
“I am have always endeavored to tell stories that move us all toward a more equitable and humane world. It is vital that we call on our elected officials to create policy that uproots the systemic racism that is standing in the way of a healthcare system and a society that are equal for all,” she shared in a press release for the film.
“The Deadliest Disease in America” also features commentary from leading medical and public health experts, including the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, Dr. Marcella, Nunez-Smith, senior advisor to the White House COVID-19 Response Team; and epidemiologist Dr. Camara Jones.
Emery’s non-profit multi-media company URU The Right to Be, Inc will be presenting the highly-anticipated screening. Since 1995, URU has been a leader at the intersection of arts, humanities, science, and technology.
“It is imperative that we illuminate disparate treatment based on racial, ethnic, and economic differences,” Emery shared of the message she hopes to convey with the documentary. “These conversations are challenging and often uncomfortable, but they must be had if we hope to achieve a healthcare system and a society that is equitable for all.”