The pandemic of racism

Published: 6/3/2020 10:07:52 AM

It’s been referred to as the “Great equalizer,” but we’ve seen the numbers and we know that in the midst of this global pandemic, COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting the black community. Many black folks work essential jobs, have limited access to health care, and of course when we do seek care, we are historically undertreated. So tragic as it is, it’s in many ways not a surprise.

What is a surprise is that this isn’t the only pandemic we are facing right now. Another one has been lurking for generations without a vaccine or immunity. That pandemic is racism. Violence against black people has not slowed down since the nation has locked down these last few months. We’ve seen at least two modern day lynchings gain national attention — Ahmaud Arbery’s death in Georgia, and now George Floyd in Minnesota. Breonna Taylor, an EMT of Kentucky, was killed in her own home by police when they entered the wrong house in March. All this carnage in just three months. Days ago, Amy Cooper of New York City falsely called the police alleging a black man threatened her life, though thankfully, that did not end in death.

If Coronavirus is the father of COVID-19, then white supremacy is the father of racism. So here is how we can save lives: Unlike COVID-19, we must remove the mask that is white fragility. It’s the same mask that saves face and avoids the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, mass incarceration and white privilege. Unlike COVID-19, white folks must avoid social distancing and instead establish deep, meaningful, authentic connections with folks of color. Unlike COVID-19, there’s no washing your hands; rather, white folks have to get messy in order to be equal stakeholders in dismantling this oppression. And unlike COVID-19, there can be no amount of fragility that dissuades you from taking the risk. White people can’t stay home.

Malcolm Pradia

Turners Falls

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