COVID-19, Racism, and the 2020 Election Season

A highly charged 2020 election season has brought systemic racism into the national spotlight as the US is simultaneously confronting racial inequities revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic and  racial violence.

The Two Pandemics, One Election series illuminates these topics and other important issues that are taking center stage in national discourse and voter decision-making. The series brought together civic leaders, scientists, medical experts, educators, organizers and elected officials for robust conversations that center equity and evidence-based policy making.

Recordings of the three events are available on the Brown School YouTube channel via the links below:

Monday, October 5: Race, Identity, and the Future of Democracy

Monday, October 12: Re-defining Equity

Monday, October 19: The Future of Justice

Click below for details about each episode.

Episode 1: Race, Identity, and the Future of Democracy

Framed against the backdrop of the Vice-Presidential debate, this conversation considers the impact of how political candidates’ identities shape the conversation with an increasingly diverse electorate. This includes political agendas, media discourse, the emergence of new groups as political players, and new forms of backlash.  This roundtable pays especial attention to intersections between racial, ethnic, immigrant, and gender identities. Watch this episode here.


Sayu Bhojwani, PhD  |  Founder & President, New American Leaders

Charli Cooksey, MEd  |  Founder & CEO, WePower

Hedy Lee, PhD  |  Professor of Sociology & Associate Director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Equity, Washington University in St. Louis

Rebecca Wanzo, PhD  |  Professor & Chair, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Washington University in St. Louis


Adrienne D. Davis  |  Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs & Diversity, William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law, Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity, Washington University in St. Louis

Episode 2: Re-defining Equity

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how policy and health and education equity are inextricably tied, making racial and economic gaps in our country more stark. This is true of social determinants of health, access to quality health care and education, and, most recently, the impact to families of school closures and remote learning. This roundtable  drives a conversation towards a political agenda for health and educational equity that creates safe and thriving communities going forward. Click here to watch this episode.


Cynthia Rogers, MD | Associate Professor, Psychiatry; Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity (CRE2), Washington University in St. Louis

Art McCoy, PhD | Superintendent & CEO, Jennings School District

Leopoldo Cabassa, PhD | Associate Professor, Brown School; Co-Director, Center for Mental Health Services Research, Washington University in St. Louis


Darrell Hudson, PhD | Associate Professor, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis

Episode 3: The Future of Justice

All too often, the punitive force of the criminal justice system jeopardizes public safety, trust, and human rights. As the global COVID-19 pandemic rages on, racialized policing, prosecutorial, and incarceration practices are under increased scrutiny. The cumulative effects of brutalization of black and brown people calls into question the United States’ commitment to equality and liberty for all. How do we envision and realize a future just society that incorporates a more expansive notion of safety and wellness? Click here to view the third and final installment of the series.


Kim Gardner, JD | Circuit Attorney, City of St. Louis

Daniel Harawa, JD | Assistant Professor of Practice, Director of the Appellate Clinic, School of Law

Katie Herbert Meyer, JD | Assistant Professor of Practice and Director, Immigration Clinic

Odis Johnson, Jr., PhD | Professor of Sociology & Education; Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity


Geoff Ward, PhD | Professor of African and African-American
Studies; Associate Director, Center for the Study of Race,
Ethnicity & Equity