Dr Blackstock hopes to allay some of the mistrust and skepticism that hip-hop figures like Pete Rock, Maseo and Busta Rhymes have towards the vaccine. Photo credit: Johnny Nunez / WireImage; Pierre Suu / GC Images; Burak Cingi / Redferns; Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images for Live Nation
Amid hip-hop figures expressing skepticism about the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Uché Blackstock wants to give them and others the opportunity to voice their concerns while assuring them that the vaccine is meant to help them.
In August, Dr Uché Blackstock took tTwitter ask other black health and public health professionals if they were willing to participate in a panel discussion with hip-hop artists Busta Rhymes, Maseo, and Pierre Roche to discuss their concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine.
The investigation is the result of these figures either expressing their skepticism – as well as sharing misinformation – about the vaccine (Maseo and Pete) or criticizing mandates intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 (Busta) . Since last December, Pete has expressed his skepticism about the vaccine, while Maseo recently shared posts that not only echo an anti-vaccine stance (which he refers to an anti-trust stance), but also with an air of conspiracy. , as was the case with an article he shared on Bill Gates, presumably in relation to debunked theories about him and his organization’s role in the spread and treatment of the coronavirus. Unlike Maseo or Pete, Busta hasn’t shared any anti-vax posts that could be considered anti-vax, but he was recently criticized for an anti-mask rant he gave at a concert.
But these cases are a testament to the continued mistrust and skepticism of covid vaccines – and warrants – in hip-hop, which is rooted in the justified mistrust that blacks in America have of the healthcare system of Canada. this country, with the controversial Tuskegee experiment consistently referenced during this period. .
Dr Blackstock hopes to allay some of the distrust and skepticism among these hip-hop figures – as well as the black community at large – towards the vaccine. She is the founder of Advanced Health Equity, which partners with healthcare institutions and organizations to address racial inequalities in health, as well as to provide them with strategies and tools to provide racially equitable care.
She’s also a hip-hop fan: she grew up with music from De La Soul, Busta and Rock, their music played in cars passing by in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, where she was raised at parties. academics she attended. These artists were the basis of her education and still mean a lot to her, which is why she wants to help them better understand how the vaccine works.
“Black men have the shortest life expectancy of any racial and ethnic demographic in this country, don’t they? And we’ve even seen other hip-hop artists die young, like DMX, ”she said. “And so, this is all part of it – systemic racism does that … I recognize the impact of systemic racism on the decision of black people to be vaccinated.” We are asking our people to basically take a vaccine that has been produced by social institutions that have harmed our communities, which have been shown to be very unreliable, so there is this paradox. “
“So it is like recognizing: ‘Yes, systemic racism historically and today has deeply damaged our communities,'” she continued. “But at the same time, these vaccines actually work. And while they are not the panacea in terms of solving all the ills of our communities, they really are, I would say a miracle of science that we really need to support, because if we don’t, we are going to see these inequalities widen further.
For Blackstock, it’s not hip-hop’s suspicion of the vaccine that worries her, but the misinformation they sometimes refer to, to justify their reasoning.
“I can understand the doubts and concerns about the vaccine, but I felt like they were all using their platform to almost disseminate what I considered to be information that was not necessarily accurate,” a- she said, adding that she had contacted Maseo, Busta. , and Rock via DM, but neither artist responded. “… I really want to engage with them and not do it in a way where I’m talking down to them, but like, ‘Tell me a little bit about why you have these prospects and where you get your information from. , and maybe we can have a conversation about what vaccines actually do.
Blackstock has also noticed how some hip-hop figures have encouraged their fans to be proactive against COVID-19, but then fail to encourage them to get the shot. Granted, some artists have used their platform to encourage their fans to get vaccinated, and have even shared how they’ve gone from skeptic to supporter as well.
In the midst of transforming his classic twerk anthem “Back That Thang Up” into “Vax That Thang Up,” Juvenile shared in an interview with Politico that despite taking covid seriously, his fear of needles and worries about at the rate at which the vaccine was created, stopped him from getting the vaccine immediately. However, that changed when her daughter was accepted into school for her doctorate and a vaccine was highly recommended. This, in addition to being told about the vaccine by his wife (who is a registered nurse) and seeing loved ones die from the virus, led to him getting the vaccine.
“I saw the effect that [COVID-19] can have on a healthy person. This is one of the scariest things I have seen knowing they were in good health before they got hit by Covid. They didn’t have that opportunity to get the shot, ”Juvenile said.
Yet with the vaccine now a political issue, hip-hop artists may be reluctant to encourage the vaccine, even if they have received it themselves.
“… Are there other hip-hop artists who have been vaccinated but who are not speaking? Because I haven’t heard from them, ”Blackstock said. “I don’t know if other hip-hop artists are like, ‘Yeah, man, I got the shot and you should get the shot too, and that’s why. »… I think they are speaking out against it, but no we are speaking in favor of it.
But Blackstock isn’t giving up. Last month, she took to MSNBC (where she is a medical collaborator) to explain how Nicki Minaj’s storm of tweets suggesting the vaccine could cause testicular swelling only adds to some mistrust of the virus. vaccine, and said she was happy to sit down with the rapper to talk about vaccine misinformation.