Former NBA star Earvin “Magic” Johnson thinks that the black community is as poorly informed about the coronavirus today as they were about the AIDS crisis in the 1990s.
The five-time NBA champion told ESPN that today’s health scare is like deja vu as far as he is concerned.
“The same issues we had then, we have now, where bad information, myth about ‘it couldn’t happen to us in the black community,’ not being educated enough about HIV and AIDS,” Johnson told ESPN on Wednesday. “The same thing [is happening] with the coronavirus.”
Johnson, who was diagnosed as HIV positive back in 1991, is now trying to get ahead of the misinformation by partnering with the league’s “NBA Together.” An initiative aimed at getting the facts out to the black community to prevent unnecessary exposure to the coronavirus and correct misunderstandings about the outbreak.
“We really have to get out in front of this,” Johnson continued. “That is why I am so happy the NBA is saying, ‘Hey, we have to do something about it because who is out there on the court? Majority African American players. Who enjoys this sport? African Americans.’ We love our basketball. This is very important right now.”
The coronavirus has impacted black communities heavier than others. A recent review of the data by the Associated Press shows that 42 percent of those who have died from the virus were black. But rumors that circulated among blacks in the early days of the illness claimed that blacks were not easily infected with the coronavirus.
Johnson is set to record public service announcements about the virus and participate in various outreach programs to the black community. He will also join an NBA town hall-style event with other NBA stars to get the word out about how the outbreak is affecting the black community.
NBA Together has raised $76 million for coronavirus relief efforts.
Other celebrities have also noted that these rumors are nonsense. After he announced that he had tested positive for the virus last month, Hollywood star Idris Elba warned blacks not to believe the rumors.
“There is so many stupid, ridiculous, conspiracy theories about black people not being able to get it. That’s dumb. It’s stupid. Alright?” Elba said his social media video. “That is the quickest way to get more black people killed.”
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