Corine Mack is the president of the NAACP‘s Charlotte-Mecklenburg chapter in North Carolina. The retired rapid transit operations vice president and former George Meany School of Labor Law student, Mack is an ordained elder who has ministered to thousands of incarcerated inmates in the New York prison system.
Recently, she spoke to rolling out about her latest push to get more Black people vaccinated.
What is the role vaccines play in the community?
The role that it has played has been devastating in the community. We’re in a pandemic, and I think that people don’t realize the severity of that word and that existence, but we’ve gone through pandemics throughout history so we should be able to adapt. If we don’t, then we need to.
How did you feel about the pandemic when there wasn’t a vaccine versus now when there is a vaccine?
There was some deep concern for me because historically Black people are the most harmed in any situation, but in particular, when we talk about who lives and who dies, that was a concern right away … knowing our history. When I heard that there was a vaccine that was approved, I got right on it, and decided to be engaged in any way I could to do outreach to ensure that Black and Brown and indigenous people understood the importance of taking the vaccine.
What was the piece of information that helped you decide on whether or not to take the vaccine?
Well, I joined the Governor of our state, [Roy] Cooper’s health care conversations to hear what they were doing, how it was going, who was happy being tested. My thing was if White folks are taking it, then OK, we can take it. I’m just keeping it real you’re going to get a whole lot of stuff, but I just have to be authentically myself. When White folks began to take it, and they were not getting bad side effects, I said “Okay, we can take this.”
“How do you think the COVID-19 vaccinations and mask mandates have divided the country?
The vaccination concept and mask mandates became so divisive, but that was intentional. Let’s be real about White supremacy and what White supremacy does. They always try to find a way to stop moving forward, right? Any forward movement is a problem for them, especially [when] talking about people of color. Now, we have all this funny coming out that was specific to the poor man and Black communities to ensure they were being healthy, then you start having all these negative narratives on the media. That’s why I get disturbed or folks talk about journalism because that’s not journalism. Y’all got some climbing going on, some foolery going on with news channels, who get to shoot off all this misinformation on a regular basis. We heard misinformation every single day from some White partners.