Letters to the Editor: Is white privilege behind the rage at vaccine resisters?

Willie Golden directs people toward a mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Los Angeles on July 16.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Lots of folks share columnist Erika D. Smith’s frustration over the resistance to vaccination. Some of us even know about the horrors visited upon Black men by the likes of the Tuskegee Institute’s syphilis experiments. (“I wish I could be angry with the unvaccinated. Being Black makes that complicated,” column, July 28)

But it is not “white privilege,” as Smith unfortunately says, that makes people like me disturbed and even angry at vaccine resistance, even when the resisters are Black. How is it white privilege to want unvaccinated African Americans to be healthy and alive?

Smith writes about listening to her Ohio relatives’ reservations over getting vaccinated. Instead of being a good listener, she should have pushed back and told them to “get over it.”

Yes, Black citizens have been abused and deceived by our government, but President Biden is not running that kind of government.


Please, get over it and live.

Ivan Strenski, Los Angeles


To the editor: Smith reflects my own mixed feelings about people of color delaying or refusing vaccination.

A perfect example of the level of care that Black patients are more likely to receive is tennis star Serena Williams’ post-natal experience. Having had a pulmonary embolism previously, she realized shortly after her caesarean section that she was having another embolism. The medical staff at first did not believe her, but a CT scan proved her correct and she was saved.

What Williams experienced may be experienced by women in general, but the statistics show that people of color have their input discounted and as a result suffer poor outcomes from medical treatment way more often.

So while I can be angry at the right for spreading lies about vaccination, I cannot blame people of color. I can only hope that those without medical reasons for avoiding the vaccine can eventually be convinced.

Betsy Rothstein, Los Angeles



To the editor: Smith cites historical Black mistrust of government for their lower rates of vaccination, but why does this narrative continue to go unchallenged?

The vaccines were not manufactured by the government. They were produced by private companies that make medications people take every day without mistrust. The government’s role has been to fund research, facilitate distribution and ensure the vaccine is free.

My “rage at the unvaccinated” extends to my own brother, who is white and part of the problem. The unvaccinated are affecting all of us, putting lives in jeopardy and forcing us again to wear masks.

So, we have every justification to be angry about it, no matter the person’s race.

Kathy Harty, Sierra Madre