Celebrated actress and activist Jenifer Lewis is taking on COVID-19 misinformation by partnering with The Center for Black Health & Equity (The Center) to launch 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.
As part of TruthCheck’s launch, Jenifer Lewis, the star of ABC’s sitcom “Black-ish,” has joined the TruthCheck campaign to encourage the African American community to check the facts when it comes to health decisions.
“I believe it is critical to collectively lend our voices to share the truth about COVID-19 and vaccines to empower our people to make sound, informed decisions about what is best to save lives,” said Lewis. “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 agrees. “As omicron and other variants continue the spread of COVID-19, 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,” said Jefferson. “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,” adds Jefferson.
The coronavirus and vaccines have been dogged by persistent misinformation on everything from the use of masks, the effects of vaccines and even the types of people who can contract COVID-19. The fact is nearly 900,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and Indigenous and African-American populations make up the majority 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.
The Center and Jenifer Lewis, who has a long history of advocacy around issues of social justice, have joined forces to stymie the flow of disinformation with TheTruthCheck.org. Truth Check has been funded by the CDC Foundation to support The Center and effective community outreach initiatives centered on communities of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to share accurate, culturally appropriate information about the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines and to link adults to vaccine services.
Lewis, who is known for having a strong social media presence says, “It’s a matter of life and death. Misinformation about COVID-19 is killing our people and we must do something about it.”
About The Center for Black Health & Equity
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.
This article was written by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., editor of HealthPlus. She is also founder & editor-in-chief of The Burton Wire, an award-winning news website covering news of the African Diaspora. Dr. Burton serves as subject matter expert for TheTruthCheck.org campaign. Follow Nsenga on Twitter @Ntellectual.