Special Episode: Dr. Steven Thrasher & The Viral Underclass
Are viruses the “great equalizers” that some people claim them to be? Are we all similarly susceptible not only to infection from viruses but also to the consequences from infection? The short answer is no. The longer answer can be found in this week’s book club pick, The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide by Dr. Steven Thrasher. Dr. Thrasher, the inaugural Daniel H. Renberg Chair and Assistant Professor of Journalism at Northwestern University, joins us to discuss how racism, classism, sexism, ableism, stigma, and other forms of oppression intersect to create a viral underclass, a group of individuals that are disproportionately susceptible to and impacted by viruses. Our conversation takes us through several of these vectors of the viral underclass as well as personal stories that illustrate how social and political structures punish certain communities for getting sick while others profit. Part memoir, part academic discussion, part journalism, and entirely groundbreaking, The Viral Underclass is an incredibly timely book that demonstrates the ways that viruses amplify and exacerbate existing inequalities while also underlining how we are truly all in this together. Our interconnectedness means that if one of us is vulnerable to infection, then we all are.