The United States is experiencing turmoil, not unexpected (never that), but most certainly…prescient. The year began with warnings that a pandemic was on the horizon and our national government downplayed the probability and lethality of COVID-19. (Once briefed, various politicians hoarded their monetary stocks just in case.) Faced with the escalating public health crisis, the response from federal and state governments varied to disastrous effect. There was no cohesive mandate to protect the American people at all costs — especially the cost of their lives. As the pandemic spread from state to state, information began compiling about whom was most at risk: the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. This preemptive diagnosis would soon collapse under the amassed weight of ‘young people’ affected or killed by the virus. COVID-19 by the end of May 2020 has claimed more than 100,000 lives.
“We’re all in this together.”
Black Americans are the backbone of many industrial complexes as we (knew) and many soon discovered when our work was (finally) deemed ‘essential’. This escalated risk of exposure to the virus resulted in a plethora of deaths — which would have been mitigated with a lockdown of the entire country — and not the slapdash attempts at PPE and social distancing. Racism always lurks in the background or foreground of American life and this current pandemic further highlighted the inequalities of health and wealth disparities that have been tightening around the Black American community for decades. The response to Black death is a shrug exemplified by pathologizing our trauma and collecting data rather than collecting reparations. When White citizens so forcefully (and graciously) demanded the country to reopen during the escalating pandemic, the hypocrisy of whose American rights and freedoms were being infringed upon came into stark relief. During the war of public health versus ‘we need to return to business normal’ the murder of Ahmaud Aubrey began to seep into COVID-19 news coverage.