The past few days have been a whirlwind.
The Coronavirus is sweeping through our communities like a silent thief.
Endangering our most vulnerable.
After finishing with one of our cohorts two nights ago, I made my routine call home to say I was on my way and Jomo shared that the NBA had shut down.
I had a bit of a mini-panic.
I envisioned all of the zombie apocalypse video games I’ve watched Jomo and our sons play over the years – you know the scene – total collapse of society as we know it.
Merriam-Webster tells us that “a disease can be declared an epidemic when it spreads over a wide area and many individuals are taken ill at the same time. If the spread escalates further, an epidemic can become a pandemic, which affects an even wider geographical area and a significant portion of the population becomes affected.”
Worst case scenario? By some estimates we are looking at…
- 160 to 214 million infected over the next year
- With 2.4 to 21 million of those needing interventions
- While a staggering 200,000 to 1.7 million could die
- And nearly everyone is impacted in some way
As I’m watching this unfold, I see people I love experiencing different things.
There are the anxious and worried. A natural feeling in times like this.
There are those that prepare and who are emptying the shelves at just about every store and taking pictures to show us the scene. The human impulse to self-preserve is alive and well.
There are the organizers who are setting up systems right now to create a wide enough safety net in hopes that no one slips through. Our capacity to experience discomfort as we serve one another is already showing up in spectacular beauty.
There are the naysayers who are wondering what all the fuss is about as they look around at work, at the coffee shop, and at their families and see no evidence of this silent killer.
Just about everyone is behaving differently.
And this has me curious.
What creates this swift change of behavior?
I’m curious about this because, in my work to create pathways of liberation from white dominance, one of the hardest things to do is create large-scale behavior change.
Yet, the impact of white dominance is even more staggering than what we are facing with the Coronavirus. It’s on par with the definition of pandemic as it sweeps across our entire nation and impacts millions of people.
The 2010 census reported 309 million people living in the United states – all of which are experiencing various impact from white dominance.
- Indigenous people (3 million) have been almost entirely stripped of their land and resources and experience life threatening health disparities, incarceration, and homicide.
- Black people (38 million) are experiencing life threatening incarceration rates and are targeted daily by police and legislation which paints a fake target on their backs.
- Latina/Latino people (50 million) experience brutal labor conditions, are hunted by our government, risk being separated from their families, or being held in cages.
- Asian people (14 million) face life threatening exposure to transracial adoption and the lie of model minority, while also enduring inhumane work conditions.
- Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (.6 million) are virtually ignored as they signal the danger of climate change and experience the greatest loss of life by our refusal to change.
- White people (189 million) are more polarized than ever – fighting among ourselves – in service to 1% of our population who we keep allowing to control our marionette strings.
And these examples are only the very tip of the iceberg.
So, what’s the difference?
White people actually believe that the Coronavirus is life threatening.
We sense danger.
And rooted at our very core – we are following our impulse to survive.
So, what if we saw white dominance as life threatening?
What if we believed that…
- all of humanity is being exposed and we must stop the spread
- those most vulnerable should be most protected
- institutions should let people work from home to lessen exposure
- schools should close because our children are unsafe within a system that has proven unable to keep them from exposure
- resources must be utilized differently
- our comfort is less important than stopping the killer in its tracks
- we are powerful together and can minimize harm with swift, micro-local organizing
Watching my white community respond to Coronavirus tells of our capacity to recognize threat.
It tells of our ability to change in light of that threat.
It has fueled in me a desire to help us see ourselves more clearly.
To recognize that while we have been saying race doesn’t impact us, we’ve missed the life-threatening nature of white dominance.
Our response to Coronavirus is showing me that when we finally see a threat for what it is, we have tremendous capacity to envision what needs to be done…and do it.
Beloved, will this finally help us believe in the power of collective liberation?
Do not miss the lessons of this moment.
Do not let fear persuade you that we are anything less than everything we need to love, care, protect, sing, organize, mobilize, transform, and become the people we say we want to be.
When the dust settles on this virus and it’s finally been put to rest – you will hear me still pounding this drum of collective liberation from white dominance because I believe in us. I love us. I’m depending on us.
And now I know with certainty, that we can do this.