The tentacles of my bean plants in the garden have reached the top of the tee-pee I gave them for support and are waving in space looking for something to hold onto. This wild search in space reminds me of the outcry from African-American people: driven by a strong life-force, tired of fighting the current structure, they’re breaking loose.
Natural forces affect all of us. They say nature is the great equalizer. Natural disasters, such as smoke from wildfires, floods from hurricanes, destruction from tornadoes and earthquakes affect everyone. Even though they affect everyone, some of us are better situated than others when dealing with disasters. And now we’re in a pandemic, a natural phenomenon that doesn’t know borders, race, or status.
Pandemic and Inequality
The pandemic is transforming our life, transforming our thinking. Maybe the pandemic is affecting everyone, but it’s not affecting everyone the same. Poor people, and the non-white people are afflicted 4-5x as much, because they lack safe jobs, they lack the opportunity to work from home, they lack shelter, they lack access to health care. When the police murdered George Floyd, pandemic stress and racial tensions were the perfect storm that opened the wounds systemic racism has burned into our society. A cry of pain is reaching into the sky, suffering is visible and unmistakable.
As Hanuman Goleman, founder of More than Sound LLC, says: “Racism is fundamental to our power structure and benefits white people every day. There is a lot of work to do to before we arrive at equality.”
The Examined Life
While the pandemic rages, the doors to our racist societal structure have been ripped open. It is time for white America to examine their actions, language and policies. What can a white person who has been socialized in a racist society do to answer the cry?
This is what we can do:
Building a Functional Society
So here are the basics: money, communal input, education, language, housing, and jobs, the corner stones of a functioning society. We can work on creating racial equality through these cornerstones . What can I, an elder white lady who owns a house, loves nature, doesn’t need a job and has access to affordable healthcare, contribute to do my part?
I can speak up in my city council. I can write to my representatives, support and encourage legislation that opens the doors to people of color. I can ask people of color who live here to form a council if they haven’t formed one already, and let them tell us how we can invite and bring other people of color to this region.
The Long Road
It’s a long road to make these changes. It’s been too long of a road to freedom and equality for African Americans, Native Americans, aspiring Hispanic immigrants, and Chinese escaping a totalitarian political system.
We cannot sit still or walk for our pleasure on this land without sharing it with others.
The pandemic is forcing us to shelter at home. It doesn’t force us to be silent, inactive, or non-caring. We can take advantage of the fact that there is less distraction and more opportunity due to Covid-19 to reflect and develop much needed compassion.
If the pandemic hasn’t changed your life that much, lucky you! What will you do to change yourself and make a positive change for others? Pick one thing out of the list of options and get started. There is work to do before we reach equality.