People say “back to normal” as if it is a good thing. What does back to normal mean? In the wake of COVID 19, is it really normal or a good thing to have hundreds of people packed in subway cars? Is it normal or a good thing that employees in food processing work shoulder to shoulder? In the wake of the murder of George Floyd, questions of police brutality and the unfair treatment blacks, what is normal? The civil rights act of 1964 made it illegal for employers to discriminate based on race and pay employees less based on race. Prior to this, that was not only normal, but legal. In 2020, fifty-six years latter income disparities have not flattened out. The data shows the gaps are still there. Why is it so easy for people to brush it off? The reaction to COVID-19 explains a lot about racial inequality.
The established metrics¹ for COVID-19 is an abatement of infections, practically no new cases of infection and ICU capacity for a surge. States are not meeting this. However, states are reopening anyway; for “the economy.” No mask protestors look like a scene from the walking dead; with screams of infringement of their civil rights. Cases in the US are surging. Sociologists cited the sense of “individualism.” In Europe, were the virus is declining compared to the US, there is a greater sense of community. People are following guidelines. The US, not so much. Which makes it ironic that a country with united in its name, the population is insistent on individual rights with no regard for community. There is ongoing denial; a problem wrapped in rhetoric, “I don’t know anyone with the virus, so it’s not a problem.” The takeaway is the abandonment of facts, data and the incessant creation of a false narrative, the virus is a hoax, it’s just a flu, wearing a mask is a violation of my rights. You have rights and responsibilities. Legally state and local governments have broad authority in a medical emergency. This is a medical emergency. Stop the politicization of masks; masks protect the public not the wearer.
Rules, guidelines and data have not flattened COVID 19; there is a third of the US population who don’t believe corona is an issue. There are laws, and policies against discrimination, yet a third of the population don’t see there is an issue with racial equality OR more to the point, don’t believe the in racial equality. Will the sense of alarm of racial inequality fade like the fear of corona? ” The backlash against racial equality is strong:
“I’ve got the emails about how we’re supporting and we need to fix this problem, [expletive] you,” said retired Navy captain and Naval Academy Alumni Board member Scott Bethmann. Bethmann objected to the fact that organizations felt a necessity to publicly align themselves with Black Lives Matter — even when they themselves had done nothing wrong: “So all the white people have to say something nice to the black [expletive] that works in the office. But the black [expletive] don’t get fired. It’s [expletive]. Management’s going to fire the white people. … The white [expletive] can’t say anything; that’s the point we’re making here.”
Will the acknowledgement of systematic racism lead to transformation where people will take action beyond a hashtag or pledge proclaiming solidarity? Is there a tolerance for economic disruption to close the pay gaps? Or, will Americans quickly stray away from facts and embrace false beliefs out of fatigue and a desire to “return to normal.
To recap, there are roughly a third of Americans who believe corona to be a hoax, masks are an infringement of rights and an overreach. There are roughly a third of Americans who believe racial inequality is not an issue, “they are complaining,” white power with understanding of systematic racism and inequality. The Fourth of July is Saturday, celebrating a moment in history when …historians today estimate that 40 percent of Americans supported the Revolution, 20 percent opposed it, and 40 percent tried to remain neutral.³ This week consider the definitive moments of this time, your position and your support of your position.
¹two-week drop in coronavirus cases,fewer than four daily new cases per 100,000 people per day, 150 new tests per 100,000 people per day, positive rate for tests below 5 percent, 40 percent of their ICU beds free