If there has ever been a malicious Hollywood-made pathogen, COVID seems almost human in its stinky destructive capacity. It has changed our lives and the way we work, learn and even behave backwards over the past 17 months while leaving in its wake anxiety, illness and death.
In fact, covid is a virus, a simple string of molecules; not a morning freak. Its ability to wreak havoc stems from the exploitation of existing vulnerable communities. The structures that produce insecurity and harm for individuals and families have only amplified the relentless impact of COVID. In other words, COVID is more like a mirror, a mirror that reflects the contradictions that define who is dangerous in America.
Our national anthem celebrates America as “the land of the free and the homeland of the brave.” A better description of our current condition is America, insecurity. There are so many in our cities, towns, reserves and suburbs.
Workers essential to our daily lives are not safe. They have no choice but to work and face a greater risk of exposure to the virus. The nearly 9 million people who saw their improved federal unemployment benefits expire on Labor Day either. With an uncertain future, they must make ends meet with much less.
Black, brown and indigenous communities are not safe. With limited access to health care before the pandemic and a long history of differential treatment, these communities continue to experience disproportionate COVID-related illness and death on a shocking scale.
Black people are not safe. In the summer of 2020, millions of protesters chanted “this time it’s different” following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But, black men and women continue to die in police custody. The conviction of former officer Chauvin in the death of George Floyd remains an exception. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has stalled in the US Senate, the victim of partisan resentment.
Black parents still have “the conversation” with their children. There is no way to water down the need for it: our criminal justice system virtually denies blacks the presumption of innocence while extending it to the police.
Asian communities are not safe. Beginning with the xenophobic rhetoric of former President Trump who called the virus at the start of the pandemic a “Chinese virus,” acts of anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes have only proliferated, to such an extent. that in a rare display of bipartisanship, the US Congress last May rushed the passage of the COVID-19 hate crime law.
Jewish and Muslim communities are not safe. The Jewish people and institutions have long been the target of harassment, intimidation and murder. No place is safe, not the synagogues where worshipers were shot in Pittsburg in 2018 and Poway in 2019 or even on the sidewalks of Los Angeles and New York in 2021 where Jews were attacked this spring.
Muslims are not safe. Acts of Islamophobia take many forms: vandalism of mosques and physical attacks. This extends to public harassment of Muslim women who practice the hijab — wearing a headscarf, loose clothing, or a niqab that covers a large part of the face. The recent “end” of the Eternal War in Afghanistan and the coming 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks could very well lead to more Islamophobia on the airways and in the communities where American Muslims work and live.
The LGBTQ community is not safe. Universities and colleges can serve as support spaces for LGBTQ youth who go out or have questions. The end of in-person learning and life on our campuses has placed them in impossible situations. Many returned home to families that did not support them and had to either hide their identities or risk rejection or outright eviction.
Meanwhile, several southern and midwestern states continue their assault on the protection of transgender communities. In a distortion of gender equity, conservative lawmakers have essentially banned transgender youth in public schools from participating in sports.
Women are not safe. The COVID experience has been gendered, with women providing a significant portion of essential work at home and away from home. Many have left the labor market altogether to care for loved ones and coordinate distance learning for their children.
Their bodies are not safe either. Last May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott enacted the Heartbeat Act, which prohibits abortion as early as six weeks after pregnancy. The law not only restricts access, but also creates an open season for anyone connected with an abortion procedure. Offering bonuses of $ 10,000, it allows private citizens to sue in civil court anyone involved – whether a rideshare driver, clinic provider or doctor – for having is breaking the law. Challenged by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to come into effect earlier this month.
Undocumented immigrants are not safe. The stubborn inaction of the US Senate on immigration reform has been matched only by vindictive actions on the part of state governments. Almost 12 million people lead contingent lives while contributing to the viability of the economy and the quality of life for so many.
Yet last July a group of nine states led by Texas won their case in Southern District Court to stop new deportation requests under the 2012 Obama Executive Order known as the deferred action for the arrival of children (DACA). Raised in the United States ,. among the 700,000 DACA recipients are a growing number of doctors and lawyers, as well as students and veterans of active service and the military. The closure of this avenue is designed to make the American dream of talented undocumented youth not only elusive but also a nightmare of living in the shadows.
The dangerous people pandemic will continue long after infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID become more manageable. In the United States, there is no vaccination against inequity or injustice. It is only by seeing ourselves in relation to them that we can begin to translate our compassion into lasting social change.