Following a week of claims that minorities are more heavily impacted by coronavirus than other Americans, Surgeon General Jerome Adams offered some advice which led to a confrontational encounter with PBS reporter, Yamiche Alcindor.
“I want to close by saying while your state and local health departments and those of us in public service are working day and night to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect you regardless of your color, your creed, or your geography, I need you to know that you’re not helpless and that it’s even more important in communities of color, we adhere to the task force guidelines to slow the spread,” Adams said. “Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. And call your friends and family. Check on your mother, she wants to hear from you right now.”
“And speaking of mothers, we need you to do this if not for yourself than for your abuela. Do it for your granddaddy. Do it for your Big Mama. Do it for your Pop-Pop. We need you to understand, especially in communities of colors, we need you to step up and help stop the spread so that we can protect those who are most vulnerable,” Adams continued.
PBS reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, confronted Adams claiming his choice of words had “offended” individuals online.
“You said that African Americans and Latinos should avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. You also said do it for your abuela, do it for Big Mama and Pop-Pop. There are some people online who are already offended by that language and the idea that you’re saying that behaviors might be leading to these high death rates,” Alcindor told Adams. “Do you, I guess, have a response to people who might be offended by the language that you used?”
Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, tells black people, Latinos and other ppl of color to avoid alcohol and drugs and adds: "Do it for your abuela, do it for your grandaddy, do it for your Big Mama, do it for your pop pop."
Context: Many found this language highly offensive.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) April 10, 2020
Adams explained that he had discussed the situation with the NAACP and his comments were “targeted outreach” to minorities.
“I have a Puerto Rican brother-in-law. I call my Grand Daddy ‘Grand Daddy.’ I have relatives who call their grandparents ‘Big Mama.’ So that was not meant to be offensive, that is the language that we use and that I use and we need to continue to target our outreach to those communities,” Adams explained. “It is critically important that they understand that it’s not just about them and I was very clear about that. It’s not just about what you do, but you also are not helpless.”
“We need everyone — black, brown, white, whatever color you are — to follow the president’s guidelines, the coronavirus guidelines and do their part because when I talked to the NAACP three weeks ago, it’s important to note that one of the things that they asked me was will you help dispel the myths in this community that people actually can’t get coronavirus if they’re black. That was a myth that was out there that’s actually very important for us to squash here,” Adams continued.
Alcindor then asked, So, do you recommend that all Americans avoid tobacco, alcohol, and–and drug use at this time?
Absolutely. I–it’s especially important for people who are at risk and with comorbidities, but yes, all Americans. So, thank you, and I will clarify that all Americans need to avoid the substances at all times. I put out a smoking cessation report in January. I put out a advisory against use and pregnant women using marijuana last year. And that was not directed towards any one race. That’s everybody needs to do everything they can to be as healthy as possible at this critical time,” Adams responded.
Alcindor was roundly mocked online for her criticism.
.@Yamiche Alcindor lecturing the Surgeon General of the United States as a member of the P.C. Police is pretty pathetic.
And never forget — she works for PBS, so she's doing this on OUR behalf as taxpayers
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 10, 2020
You posted your tweet just so you could get people pissed off so you could turn around and say that people online were "offended" https://t.co/9XDKyVf3Ie
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 10, 2020
You may remember Alcindor from an earlier White House briefing bout over the term, “Kung Flu.”