Doctor Blames White Supremacy for Minority Vaccination Hesitation on MSNBC

By Hannah Claire Brimelow

Dr. Chris Pernell told MSNBC’s The Cross Connection that white supremacy was behind the anti-vaccination sentiment in minority communities.

The news network’s anchor Tiffany Cross had Pernell on her show on Saturday to talk about national vaccination rates, which have declined in recent weeks despite the online push for #HotVaxSummer.

The doctor, who works as a senior executive at New Jersey hospital, acknowledged that African Americans are statistically unlikely to get the COVID-19 vaccination. According to data from the CDC, less than 10% of black, non-Hispanic people in the United States have received at least one dose of the vaccination. This is a higher population percentage in comparison to Asian-Americans (6.1%). However, it is significantly less than both the White and Hispanic populations, at 59.2% and 15.9% respectively.

This disparity has been attributed to a plethora of factors. ‘Vaccine hesitancy,’ or reluctance or refusal to get vaccinated, is disregarded as a sufficient explanation by many academics. University professors Ryan Lindsay and Elisa Sobo argue insufficient internet access, unreliable transportation, and lack of information are the real obstacles for minority communities.

Pernell, however, blames another culprit for the low minority vaccination rates.

Of the anti-vaxxer movement, she told Cross “I actually see that as another example of the proliferation of white supremacy. Because in particular, they are targeting communities of color…And they are targeting the historical injustices, the atrocity, that communities of color have experienced, as a way to play on their vulnerabilities. You have people who have questions. You have people unfortunately who have become susceptible to the conspiracy theories.”

In addition to her race related comments on TV, Prenell has previously blamed President Trump for anti-vaccination sentiment.

In late 2020, after her 78-year-old father died of COVID-19, she signed up for the Moderna vaccination trial. She expressed concern to Public Radio East about the public’s attitude toward the potential vaccination. At the time, she said “We can’t begin to demonize or to create stigma around that skepticism, especially in Black and Brown communities because it will backfire on us.”

Then she penned an op-ed for CNN in October of 2020 that claimed President Donald Trump “spit on his grave” after he tweeted “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” At the time, Trump was returning to the White House after being Treated for the coronavirus at Walter Reed Hospital.

“He puts at risk millions who still look to him for guidance and credible information. He positions the White House at odds with the medical community. And, he routinely opts for political theater — using his surrogates as props in a deadly web of pseudo-science and distortions,” wrote Pernell.

During the MSNBC segment, Dr. Pernell did not give any specifics on how supposed white supremacists convinced minorities to forgo the vaccination. Tiffany Cross did not ask her to explain the claim and praised her for putting her answer “in the proper perspective.”

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