Coronavirus Diaries: Civil Rights edition

May 30

I woke up this morning feeling unsettled because, in this blog, which is supposed to be chronicling what living through a pandemic is like, I hadn’t touched on any of the racial dynamics happening right now. I told myself it wasn’t “on topic,” that this blog is about covid, not about police brutality or racism or civil unrest, and I’m definitely not an authority on any of those topics, so I guess I thought I’d keep to the microcosm that is my life, which isn’t really affected by any of those topics.

Only it is affected by them, because they are a reflection of American society, and so am I.

This country is going through a moral crisis AND going through a pandemic at the same time. I can’t say for sure if one is related to the other, but I can’t imagine how they’re not. Our already polarized country–pro-Trump-ers and anti-Trump-ers–become even more polarized by the pandemic, the former crying out injustice although their rights are intact, and the latter enraged by the former’s lack of compassion for their fellow man. That definitely seems to be the dividing line these days: do you care about others or do you only care about yourself?

And when racism gets involved, well, white people’s answer to that question has always been obvious. White people care more about white people than any others, as though people who don’t look like them aren’t made up of the exact same stuff they are.

I have never understood how one race can think they are superior to any others. I have never understood how one human can hurt and torture and batter another. When learning about slavery and civil rights in middle school, I’d say I had a stomach ache and had to go home. It wasn’t a lie; what I learned made me sick. I couldn’t hear about lashings, lynchings. I didn’t want to imagine one person doing such awful things to another. I didn’t want to know they could.

But it’s clear some can. It’s clear some still do. And it still makes me sick.

I know American life is complicated. Our history is complicated. Our politics are complicated. I know people have a thousand excuses and a thousand explanations about what’s happening right now. But really, the only thing that matters to me is that one question: do you care about others or do you only care about yourself?

I beg you, please: care about others.