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Disproportionate mortality and morbidity burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic and coinciding media coverage of public acts of violence perpetrated against people of color in 2020 precipitated reckonings with structural inequities in global, national, and local contexts. This cross-country comparative analysis aims to describe how people voice and make sense race, racism, and privilege in their experiences with COVID-19 infection in the United States, United Kingdom, and Brazil. Anchored by continuous reflection on our individual and collective positionality, we conducted an inductive comparative analysis conceptually situated in intersectionality and critical race theory. Countries used a shared qualitative methodology to collect and analyze 166 narratives of people with experience of COVID-19 infection from 2020 to 2023. We selected 19 cases that illustrate cross-national differences in peoples' acknowledgment and narration of structural privilege and disadvantage in their observations of COVID-19 in their countries and in their personal experiences. People in the US had the most fluency with voicing race directly. In Brazil, while some respondents (especially younger people) demonstrated high racial consciousness, others struggled to identify and talk about racial relationships. In the UK, people voiced racial identifications, though often within white norms of politeness and an accompanying sense of discomfort. The findings overall illustrate moments the interview becomes or does not become a space for voicing social categories and systemic underpinnings of difference in COVID-19 infections and healthcare experiences. We reflect on cross-country differences in historical and contemporary racialized discourse and elaborate on implications of focusing on voicing in qualitative research.

Original publication




Journal article


SSM Qual Res Health

Publication Date





COVID-19, Cross-country comparison, Health experiences, Inequity, Racism