- Healthcare workers said SNL inaccurately portrayed vaccine hesitancy in Black communities.
- In a skit, 4 Black game show contestants turned down the COVID vaccine, even with cash incentives.
- Critics said the skit did not address the lack of vaccine access and historical racism in healthcare
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
Health care workers are questioning why SNL aired a skit that stereotyped Black Americans' views of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Actor and SNL host Daniel Kaluuya starred in a skit called "Will You Take It" on April 3, featuring three Black cast members (Kenan Thompson, Chris Redd, Ego Nwodim) and guest Punkie Johnson.
Kaluuya played a doctor who offered money to four high-risk people in exchange for the COVID-19 vaccine. None of the four Black contestants took the cash offer, which grew to $5,000, for the vaccine. Uncle Derek, played by Thompson, said the vaccine wasn't "worth it" for him despite having two heart attacks, and Aunt Shauna, played by Johnson, said she cannot take the shot because a Facebook post told her Christians can't take it.
Black physicians criticized the skit's stereotypical depiction of vaccine hesitancy among Black people, who are the fastest growing demographic to say they have either taken or will take the vaccine. Critics also said the skit did not address the lack of access to vaccine sites among Black people and historical racism in healthcare.
"How did this skit even make it on air?" Dr. Uché Blackstock, the founder of Advancing Health Equity, wrote on Twitter. "It's deeply problematic – making fun of Black folks declining the vaccine, especially without any context – past and ongoing racism within and outside healthcare institutions. You all should know better by now."
-uché blackstock, md (@uche_blackstock) April 4, 2021
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"This s*** aint funny, @nbcsnl," said emergency medicine physician Benjamin Thomas. "Playing on stereotypes and generalizations is a dangerous game especially when 75,000 Black lives lives have been lost to #COVID19. Polls show that over 80% of black people want the shot."
-Benjamin Thomas, MD (@BTMD5150) April 5, 2021
"This skit is irresponsible as it further perpetuates vaccine disparities as being due to Black Americans being ignorant for a good laugh and portrays black healthcare providers as manipulative," said family physician Krys Foster on Twitter. "The more I think about it, the more my stomach turns."
-Krys Foster MD MPH (@DrKFosterMD) April 4, 2021
Black, Hispanic, and American Indian communities had higher rates of death from COVID-19 relative to their population in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported, suggesting they had a "disproportionate burden" during the pandemic.
Though 55% of Black people indicated they wanted the COVID-19 vaccine in a survey, KFF reported white people still have a higher rate of receiving shots in 40 states.
Along with skepticism of healthcare institutions among Black people due to historical inequality, experts told Insider a lack of access to vaccine sites in communities of color and less targeted outreach could account for the racial gap.
"There really are extreme concerns around access, even for folks that are in the healthcare system," Dr. Utibe Essien, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told Insider.
But CVS recently reported Black, Hispanic, and Native American individuals represent 34% of all in-store vaccine appointments, which is 12% higher than its stores' baseline community representation for those groups. White Republicans, on the other hand, make up the largest demographic of those who said they are unsure or will not get the COVID-19 vaccine according to a recent poll.
NBC was not immediately available for comment.