by Pearlette Springer
Pax Christi USA Anti-Racism Team coordinator
As we continue our social distancing, quarantine, or semi-quarantine status for those who are still working … as we continue to stay-at-home, shelter-in-place … as we continue to live these days of COVID-19 … let us not forget … not forget those who are suffering.
It has been revealed through statistics that people of color – Asians, Blacks, Hispanics/Latino/as – are suffering at a higher rate than their White counterparts. This is not new information. This is and has been a lived reality for many, many years. But this shutdown, lockdown, quarantine has brought this lived reality back to the surface in such a way that the-powers-that-be of our country had to publicly admit it.
A few days ago, a married couple from my parish died. A few days ago, I thought my brother was headed in the same direction. I hear about the death of several members of the same family in New York, Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, Seattle, Milwaukee, Houston, St. Louis, Alabama, Mississippi, California… The truth of the matter is that we all will be touched by COVID-19.
So the question is… how do we move from here?
Most people profess a belief in a higher being. Most of us profess a belief in Jesus Christ. This past week we marked the last days of the human life of Jesus. Just like the passion and death of Jesus Christ, we all will be touched deeply by the coronavirus, COVID-19. Just like the passion and death of Jesus Christ, we will remember this time for years to come. It will be recorded in history.
Just like the passion and death of Jesus Christ, for some of us, this will be the saddest time of our lives … we will remember the death of loved ones that have died during this crisis … we will remember fearing the death of someone we love who fought the invasion of the virus in their body … we will remember those who died that we could not mourn together, in community … we will remember the isolation from one another. We will remember the empty shelves at the grocery store, the long lines at the food pantries, being unemployed, being unable to pay bills, the fear of homelessness or hunger or domestic violence. We will remember…
COVID-19 marks the continuous crucifixion of the Black community, the Native American community, the Hispanic community, the Asian community. COVID-19 marks the continued crucifixion of the immigrant community … the continued crucifixion of marginalized communities – the poor, the homeless. COVID-19 continues to mark our lack of concern for our elderly, those in prisons and jails, those who live in violent households.
How do we move from here? The old method of demanding that the government take responsibility and do what is right is not working. The old method of giving up our collective way of functioning and embracing the “pulling ourselves up by our own booth strap” is not working.
How do we move from here?
It will take time for our country to move forward financially. It will take time to restore employment. Multiplying this ten-fold is where you find people of color. It will take time for us to mourn the death of those who died. It will take time to nurture the ill back to health. It will take time to find employment. It will take time to rebuild our finances. It will take time to pay the unpaid bills. It will take time…
I am not a political person. I do not consider myself a devoutly religious person, even though I work for the institutional church. My faith lies in the work of the church in the community. My faith lies in the innate relationship that people of color have with their Creator. My faith lies in the collectiveness of our cultures.
We are now beginning to move forward from what has felt like a lifetime of social distancing and isolation towards a new normal. I remember what the writers of the Book of Isaiah told us: “I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of Justice, I (the Lord) have grasped you by the hand; I (the Lord) formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind…”
As people of color, as people of a collective culture, as people of peace, people of deep faith … we must weather this storm … to walk a path through this difficult time. Our faith in God, our dependence on God, our willingness to listen to and obey God … our faith in the Creator, the Savior, and the Sanctifier will lead us through.
We are called to be the light in the darkness … the voice of the voiceless. We are called to offer our presence, our mere existence of being.
On the other side of this … the other side of COVID-19 … our routines will be different … our engagement with others will be different … we will be different.
So… where do we go from here?