‘Mother of Black Hollywood’ actress Jenifer Lewis joins Truth Check campaign to promote social media education
Jenifer Lewis is everything you imagine and more. Known and loved as “The Mother of Black Hollywood” and named a “National Treasure” by TV Guide, Lewis has been bringing her fabulous talents to the stage, small and big screen for decades. Whether it’s putting rogue student names “on his list” as Dean Davenport on the iconic TV show “A Different World,” telling it like he is as Aunt Helen in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” or serving love and shadow as Ruby, the Johnson clan matriarch on the hit ABC show Black-ish, Lewis brings passion, skill and talent to her performances. which made her a household name and a beloved member of Hollywood.
In addition to her screen presence, Lewis is also praised for using social media to entertain, educate and inform. On Lewis’s social media platforms, you’re as likely to find the Screen Actors Guild nominee singing show tunes and improvising “on these streets” hits with R&B royalty like Brandy as you are. seeing Lewis train his social media followers for social justice issues like voting, protesting police brutality, dealing with mental health, and celebrating black history and culture like Juneteenth.
Lewis laughs as I congratulate her on her 65th birthday and kicks to let Instagram followers know that age is just a number. Showing no signs of slowing down, Lewis, who is known as much for her activism as her acting, is taking on a new challenge: stopping the spread of Covid-19 misinformation on social media through a partnership with the Center for Black Health & Equity (The Center). The Center launched TheTruthCheck.org, an online training resource to equip African Americans with social media literacy and fact-checking skills to avoid the influence of COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.
“I lived through the AIDS pandemic,” says the comedian. “I saw how misinformation made a bad situation worse. We survived it and we will survive this,” Lewis testifies. The St. Louis native is the perfect person to serve as a spokesperson for this campaign because she clearly understands the importance of social media and the consequences of misinformation in a pandemic.” I’m an Alpha female and I’m a leader and you need to know what you’re leading and that’s why I’ve partnered with the Center for Black Health & Equity on TheTruthCheck.org,” she adds.
Disinformation and misinformation, the intentional dissemination of false information with the intent to deceive targeted populations has resulted in the deaths of nearly 900,000 Americans. Most of those who died from Covid-19 were Indigenous, African American and Latinx for various reasons. Black, Indigenous and Latinx populations are more likely to be employed as essential workers, increasing their exposure to the virus. They are more likely to work in low-paying jobs that lack insurance and paid vacations. Blacks, Native Americans, and Latinx Americans are more likely to be uninsured than other populations, making them less likely to receive preventive care. Black Americans are more likely to have pre-existing conditions that increase the risk of complications from the virus. Black, Native American and Latinx Americans are more likely to live in dense multi-generational housing, which makes social distancing more difficult, and generally have less access to medical facilities and resources.
That’s why Lewis believes we all need to come together to help stop the spread of Covid-19 because “if one of us has Covid, we all have Covid,” she says. The spread of misinformation through social media must stop as the consequences are disastrous for our community.
“As Omicron and other variants continue the spread of COVID-19, we find that the top sources African Americans rely on for vaccine information are also untrusted sources, social media being the primary culprit,” said Delmonte Jefferson, the Center’s chief executive. “Yet people are repeating what they hear on social media without first checking for accuracy. 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.
“TheTruthCheck.org is a tool to help stop the spread of misinformation,” Lewis says. “You go out there and learn what’s wrong and what’s factual because social media deliberately gives us false information in some cases,” the Hollywood Walk of Fame winner adds. Lewis believes organizations like TheTruthCheck.org are necessary to keep our families safe in a changing world.
Understanding the consequences of misinformation for our community, the “Black-ish” star has joined TheTruthCheck campaign to encourage the African-American community to check the facts when it comes to healthcare decisions.
“I believe it is essential that we collectively lend our voices to share the truth about COVID-19 and vaccines to enable our people to make wise and informed decisions about what is best to save lives,” Lewis said. “We should all be social media savvy and check it out before we believe it and share it.”
Misinformation isn’t the only reason Lewis joined TheTruthCheck.org campaign. “I joined because I care. I want people to have joy in their lives,” she says evenly. “It’s time for us to come to the table and to have these conversations about the new reality. It will never be what it was. The world has changed and we have to change with it. To change with it, you have to be educated about it.
Truth Check was funded by the CDC Foundation to support the Center and effective community outreach initiatives centered on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to share accurate and culturally appropriate information about COVID-19 and vaccines against influenza and linking adults to immunization services.
To learn more about the campaign and how to spot misinformation on social media, visit TheTruthCheck.org.