Jenifer Lewis returned to her alma mater Webster University on Nov. 5, 2022, and the acclaimed actor delighted an audience of 600 people with truthful answers to questions.
A star of the ABC sitcom “Blackish,” which celebrated its final season in 2021, Lewis has found a new stage in the effort to reduce the vaccination gap between African Americans and other ethnic groups.
Lewis is challenging COVID-19 misinformation in partnership with The Center for Black Health & Equity [The Center]. Together, they have launched TheTruthCheck.org, an online training resource to provide African Americans with social media literacy and fact-checking skills to avoid the influence of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.
““The lies affect our health and is affecting our overall quality of life,” she said on the TructhCheck.org website.
“We’ve got to take the time to go past the headline and simply ‘liking’ everything and actually doing our research. We should all be social media savvy and give it the side eye before we believe it and share it.”
Delmonte Jefferson, executive director for The Center told HealthPlus Editor Nsenga K. Burton, “we are finding that the main sources African Americans rely on for information about the vaccines are also the sources not trusted, with social media being the main culprit.”
“Yet, people repeat what they hear from social media without checking for accuracy first. This practice of receiving and sharing misinformation amplifies health disparities and harms the Black community. Truth Check aims to correct this contagious spread of inaccurate and false narratives.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], as of Nov. 16, 2022, 50.3% of Black non-Hispanic Americans had received at least one vaccination. The rate for white non-Hispanic people is 76.8%. The rate for Hispanic/Latino people was 66%
COVID-19 protocols and vaccines continue to be parts of misinformation campaigns including use of masks, the effects of vaccines and types of people who can contract the virus.
More than 1 million people in America have died from COVID-19 and Indigenous and African American populations make up most of those who have succumbed to the disease.
According to Scientific-American, “In the United States, misinformation spread by elements of the media, by public leaders and by individuals with large social media platforms has contributed to a disproportionately large share of COVID-19 burden.”
“Misinformation and disinformation, which is the intentional spread of misinformation to deceive targeted populations, is not new to science, technology, health, or the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the volume of disinformation spread on social media about the coronavirus and vaccines poses a serious risk to public health.”
Lewis has been a social justice advocate throughout her life and career, and she says the battle against misinformation is not a laughing matter.
“It’s a matter of life and death. Misinformation about COVID-19 is killing our people and we must do something about it,” she said.
“What I want in my life is the truth. I don’t want to be fed lies and I don’t want my community to be fed lies.”
During her Webster visit, Lewis also received proclamations that announced Nov. 5 as “Jenifer Lewis Day” for the city of St. Louis and the municipalities of Moline Acres, Northwoods, Kinloch, Ferguson, and Velda Village Hills.
Truth Check is funded by the CDC Foundation, which also support The Center’s community outreach initiatives in communities of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
The Center for Black Health & Equity (formerly NAATPN, Inc.) is a national nonprofit organization that facilitates public health programs and services that benefit communities and people of African descent.