Covid19 and Racism: the perfect storm
The saga of knee pressed on the neck of a black person in the US of A has engulfed the world with another form of chaos. The ugly face of racism has once again staring straight in the eyes of humanity.
Protests on systemic racism and injustices are now common occurrences in major cities in developed societies. At first, peaceful marches were marred with chaos, riots and disregard for property and rights of non-protesting crowd. Vandals, looters, and instigators have their field day. Destroyed properties, destruction and deaths seemed the result of and manner to call for justice. Local authorities were muted. In the land of freedom and liberties, acts of lawlessness dominated the front pages of mainstream media. Never ending finger pointing between and among political parties.
The call for justice, “I can’t breathe slogan”, stop racism now, an image of knee over a neck, etc. were the rallying points and expressions of the protest. The narrative is valid and very much called for. To ignore nor escape the facts and reality will only exacerbate the problem. However, immediate, complete, and acceptable solutions to racial discord are still elusive.
In the same vein, stopping Covid19 pandemic is as elusive as stopping racism. Though the impact of both to society is catastrophic and yet the physical manner of transmission is contrasting. Fundamental to stopping Covid19 is distance. Fundamental to getting across the anti racism message effectively is awfully proximity of people in protest and rallies.
Having said, governments and societies are now facing a big and critical dilemma. Looking for the right balance between life (health) and justice (right) of the people are important and critically necessary. The combination of the two creates bigger problem.
Amid chaos, pandemic, and emergency the most effective and reliable tools to rely on are reason, logic, responsibility, and truth. What is more timely and reasonable - to take care of society’s collective health or advocate the right of the oppressed? Logically, what happens when Covid19 demands social distancing while racism protest necessitates proximity between and among protesters? Who has the ultimate responsibility for the solution of both Covid19 and racism – governments or the people? Truthfully, Covid19 and racism are society’s plagues and curses.
Covd19 is biological, pandemic, and fatal. Racism is social, systemic, and causal. Two choices are clear. 1) If the price is “right” (justice) then join the protest. 2) If the price is life (health) then stay home. When right and life are blended and compromised without regard to consequences then society is creating the perfect storm. Both right and life are doomed!