On February 29th, the first death due to COVID-19 was reported in the United States. By two weeks later we were entering a pandemic lockdown, progressively shutting down our economy, travel, even churches, and staying home to stop the spread of the virus. We learned to wash our hands, stay 6 feet apart, wear masks, and stay home. The change was sudden and thorough.
On May 25th, George Floyd died when a white police officer held him down with a knee to the back of his neck for almost 9 minutes. Since then, across the nation and across the globe, protests have erupted against police violence and racial injustice.
When the pandemic broke out, we learned to social distance and wear masks, and we are exhausted, already worn out from the effort it takes to keep one another safe. Three months, and we’re about ready to just give up. But, people of color have been living with the fear and the consequences of the virus of racism for 400 years.
They have learned to limit their risks, have been taught by their parents strategies to stay safe, and even then – even then, the virus of racism is inescapable.
The cloth masks we wear do not protect us from exposure to coronavirus, but they do protect other people from any virus we might be carrying. We wear masks as an act of love, to keep others from harm.
We have upended our lives in a few short months to fight the coronavirus because the lives of people we love depend on it. Now we need to acknowledge that black lives depend on us as well.
We carry the virus of racism. It’s in our communities, in our society, in our institutions. It’s up to us to act in love to confront racism in our own hearts, our own minds, our own breath. It is our responsibility. We are the ones carrying this virus.