Let Us Not Forget Racism In The Time Of Covid-19

28 Apr

How are you all doing?

I know I’ve gone quiet here. I got overwhelmed by what is going on in my world, in all the world.

We are all overwhelmed, aren’t we? Or, if you’re not, perhaps we can Zoom, and you can share with me how you are not. Even if you are feeling like you are not, because some days, I’m like, okay, I don’t feel stressed outwardly, I’m just still going about my day, there still is something happening in our psyches, right?

Even if you go for your run, or feel cozy binge watching a series you’ve always wanted to have time for, or re-experience the forgotten joy of family dinners, we must all be internalizing some feeling of, this is not normal or, is this really happening? We must be internalizing some kind of fear, the dread of, will I get it? or, will I lose a loved one? or, how long will this go on for? or when is that unemployment check coming? or how are my children doing? or what in the world–inject disinfectant?! or…fill in the blank.

And that is normal. We are living through a global health pandemic, something that many who were born and raised in this country have not ever experienced. There is not a wrong or a right way to be right now. Whether you want to be productive or you feel unable to do more than get up, shower, and sit on the couch, it is okay.

I do find I need to be conscious of my mental health, and do something to get a hold of my thoughts, my mood, when I am feeling low. Much of the time this consists of eating donuts. I hope this comfort eating habit passes.

Yet, in all of this, what we must also know, is what is happening, and not happening, to Black and brown, and Asian people in this country during this time of dealing with Covid-19.

Asian, and Asian American people are experiencing racial violence, most often in the form of verbal abuse, by people who believe they are the cause of the virus spreading to the United States. Black people are not being believed about their symptoms, and denied testing when they show up at hospitals complaining of virus symptoms. I have read too many articles of Black people dying as a result of being denied care, and when I scroll my newsfeed on social media, the majority of friends posting their losses of friends and loved ones from the virus, are Black.

There are also the statistics that show the disproportionate numbers of Black people being impacted by the virus, and we know the reasons for this are layered. Health disparities caused by centuries of racism and racist policies, like the GI Bill and discriminatory lending practices, which didn’t allow Black people to live in “white neighborhoods,” forcing them to live in over-crowded neighborhoods subject to pollution, and poverty. Lack of opportunity and access to affordable housing, good healthcare, supermarkets, transportation, and jobs which pay a living wage, all contribute to health complications, like heart issues, asthma, and diabetes.

We are also talking about how education gone distance=learning mode is marred with inequity. Even when every student gets a chrome book, there are some students living with a lack of privacy and space, lack of internet services, unsettling home environments, and some students are learning some of their teachers lack online teaching experience. These factors create unequal learning experiences.

In big cities, and other urban areas, we are seeing that our essential workers trying to earn a living, are majority people of color. They do not have the option to not be in crowded spaces, or to not interface with the public. And, I have not heard a lot said about this, but when I do go to the supermarket, the majority of personal grocery shoppers, whether they are working for Instacart, or for the grocery store, like Whole Foods, are Black and brown people. And, while, I understand that we are told to stay at home and avoid the markets as much as we can, and that some people are health and immuno-compromised and should not go out, and that being a shopper is a good way to make money, especially during this time, it is a time where people of color are putting themselves, and their health, on the line, so that they can earn an income to live on.

We talk about this as being a pivotal moment for us as human beings. A time when our lives and many of our livelihoods have screeched to a halt, or at least, greatly slowed down. A time when our leadership has greatly failed us. A time when we are witnessing the unraveling of our capitalistic society. A time when people are saying it is showing us our own humanity. A time when everyone is blaming someone or something else, and a time when no one wants to take the blame. A time when we are seeing those who care most about keeping what they have for themselves, and a time when we see those with a lot, or with very little, sharing what they have so others can keep on living. A time, as a friend said, which can be used to think about the person we want to emerge as when this is all over. Please be kind, is something he often says. At this time, it is said with more urgency.

I noticed in the last week or two as I scroll through my social media feed, I have seen many videos of pow-wows, when before I might see them very rarely. I have read how the virus is also hard-hitting in the Native American community for many of the same reasons as in the Black community: health disparities that lead to underlying health issues, and lack of access to adequate healthcare.

When I see the pow-wow dancers in their respective tribes’ ceremonial dress, when I watch them move, hear the singing chants, the beating of the drums, I feel as if they are appearing as a message to all of us here. It is a feeling of the dancers of today and their ancestors both here in present time, to show us whose land this always really was in the first place, to show us what we have done to them, to their land, to show us how we have lost our way in respecting one another, in respecting the land, and to show us that we must again return to the beginning, to acknowledge all of our horrific wrongs, to start over, to right the wrongs, to begin a new world, based not on what does not belong to us, but on creating a new way that speaks of honor, love, respect, sharing, and community.

If we are going to rise from these ashes and build something new for this country, will we be kind? Will we white people make certain that we re-find our humanity and be a part of recreating a society that is truly equal and just? I say, be a part of, because while we need to be the ones to take the responsibility and use our positions of power and privilege to change the system, we must also do that with Black and brown and Indigenous people taking the lead in sharing what is wrong, and what is needed, and what this new reality should look like if we are to truly share vision, power and resources. Will we be certain that we become beautiful loving humans, who have finally awakened to the knowledge that we are all connected and none of us are free, until all of us are free?

Yes, we are overwhelmed, and it is hard some days to think of anything other than getting through our own personal, daily struggles, and that is real, real. But, it is also my wish that we do our best right now, every day, to keep our eyes wide open, and speak up and act appropriately so that everyone in our communities is getting what they need in this moment.

Wishing you all peace, good health, and safety. Please be kind.

__________________________________________

SOURCE: www.theroot.com – article, Black Woman Dies From Coronavirus After Being Turned Away 4 Times from Hospital She Worked at for Decades, 4/26/20 by Ishena Robinson

www.washingtonpost.com – article, 4 Reasons Coronavirus Is Hitting Black Communities So Hard, 4/10/20 by Eugene Scott

Photo credit: pbs.org, Creator: Joshua Lott, Credit: Reuters

3 Responses to “Let Us Not Forget Racism In The Time Of Covid-19”

  1. Diana Fox April 28, 2020 at 7:50 am #

    Wendy, my friend, thank you for this beautiful, reflective and supportive post. There are so many gems in here. I had an internal convo going with all your points. First: I hope you’re enjoying those yummy donuts on the corner of Wickenden! I’m definitely occasionally binge watching and enjoying but also twinged with guilt when I do—thanks for the “it’s ok”—I just have to get myself there. It’s about time I released that but it’s a lifelong journey.

    This virus experience is revealing all the inequities and hatreds that exist in our society. I was on a couple of zoom panels in the past few weeks, one on the ethnic, racial & religious victimizations, violence (structural, psychological, physical) Black & Brown persons—Asians, Latinos, Native Americans—are suffering while doing so many necessary services that the discriminatory system and people depend on. Farmworkers. Shoppers as you noted. And the next week I was on a panel about gender, violence and environment. Women, children, LGBTQ persons experiencing higher rates of domestic violence. Will people be kinder to nature? The powers that be are loosening the restrictions on polluters; those in power do not give it up easily. These are the sources of my anxiety and fury. Trying to manage it. Pushing daily through my work; wondering if I’m a bad mom for not creating structured/creative/fun activities to do with my daughter, trying to be softer on myself, because I didn’t read the book I’m writing about for a book review due in 3 days thoroughly enough but berating myself for all those things, bc I’m binge watching at night myself, and at the same time, telling myself that’s a stupid thing to focus on when so many are suffering—and it’s exactly what those evil white supremacists want too! They’re probably revelling in it—more hate groups are popping up—until it hits them. And then of course, they will blame the Jews, already getting blamed for concocting this in conspiracy theories because, as Tom Lehrer sang years ago, in his song “National Brotherhood Week”, “ and everyone hates the Jews”. Thank you for bringing your poignant voice to these issues and chiming in with those saying “it’s ok” how you handle this. Will mediate on your words. Xoxox

    • Wendy Jane April 28, 2020 at 5:19 pm #

      Diana!

      wow, thank you so much for sharing all of this–for being so brave in doing so. I’m so glad that there were “gems” that generated that inner dialogue and reflection. You have shared how you are so passionate about your work, and you, to me, are, just like James Brown was for music, “the hardest working woman in academia.” I am not you, but I imagine it must feel so strange, uncomfortable even, to slow down and take time to rest, binge-watch tv, whateva’…but, I am here to say, yes, it is okay! and, yes, please be gentle with yourself, my dear. Sophia is a brilliant, creative young woman, and I think even the fact that we are having more time with them at home is enough. You are enough. It is enough. Dayenu! <3

      And you know how I'm always looking at things on a micro-level, and so I thank you for all you are doing and involved in on a broader, macro-level in dealing with grave issues facing our fellow human-beings, and our environment. I had also meant to put something in the post about how anti-Semitism has reared it's ugly head during this, too, but I forgot--interesting I almost always forget about focusing on the detriment to our heritage.

      Thank you again for being so supportive, for taking the time to read and respond. Now go watch some tv!

      xoxo
      Wendy

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  1. Conspiracy Theories, Freedom, Mirrors: What Reality Are We Running From? | Wendy Jane's Soul Shake - May 12, 2020

    […] has impacted Black and brown communities. We now know, as I shared in my most recent post, Let Us Not Forget Racism In The Time Of Covid-19, that the death toll has been higher for Black and brown people in this country. This is because of […]

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