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Est. April 5, 2002
Mar 4, 2021 - Issue 855
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While the nation was burying its dead, while toilet paper got narrower in width, while storage companies tripled their rental fees, while Big Pharma scurried to produce a COVID-19 vaccine, while we struggle to hold onto our sanity, the U.S. hit the grim milestone of 500,000 thousand deaths. And counting.

It’s been about a year since the uninvited coronavirus first came into our lives. Thanks to the reckless fool who got kicked out of the White House, the U.S. leads the entire world in the number of COVID-19 cases - 28 million. And counting.

The person masquerading as the U.S. president at the advent of the pandemic told us everything was under control and soon, the virus would go away. The irresponsible assurance in the face of science wasted valuable time needed to plan an appropriate response. The negligent approach opened the door to non-scientific conspiracy theories. It allowed COVID-19 to be politicized, right down to the wearing of a simple mask. This led to unnecessary deaths.

COVID-19 has dramatically shown us how interconnected our lives are in this country. It put floodlights on the vulnerability of particular populations like African Americans and the elderly. It also exposed the systemic inequities already known to us from healthcare to housing. Those disparities were intensified under the pandemic, adding to the inability to contain the virus and deal a final blow.

It is estimated that nearly eight million businesses could close because of the virus. The National Restaurant Association has reported that 60 percent of restaurants will never re-open. Unemployment claims are at an all-time high. Three million women have been knocked out of the workforce to stay at home with young children mainly due to daycare and school closings. Nationwide, nearly 51 million public school students are being negatively impacted by virtual learning (aka virtually no learning) and are showing signs of stress and obesity. Although there has been temporary relief from rent and mortgage payments, evictions and foreclosures are now looming. The government relief packages, including the historic $2 trillion CARES Act, will triple the deficit for the next decade. This unprecedented burden has led to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

We have seen COVID’s devastation and are humbled by its mighty power. What the U.S. is facing are conditions reminiscent of the Great Depression. The situation is sobering but we must rise to the challenge if we are to get to the other side of the pandemic.

Here are three areas to consider.

Firstly, we must get our heads right. Sure, we all are suffering from COVID fatigue - longing for the good ole’ days where we could hug people, party hearty, and send our kids to school. We are up against a deadly enemy that requires that we be in tip-top mental and physical shape for the protracted battle ahead.

Secondly, our families and communities must show some extra love and patience with one another. Be there to listen, share what you can, and advocate when you need to. We are being pitted against one another in many ways so that our time is wasted, and our fears and anger have been compounded.

Lastly, we must be laser-focused and strategic in pushing for what our families and communities need. If we are going to be in deep debt on a personal and federal level for generations, let’s make sure our tax dollars count for addressing long-term solutions. To do this, we must be organized in ways that we have never been before and with people we don’t know but who share both our plight and our vision.

The vaccine is a welcome sight, but it is not a panacea. We can’t depend on politicians whose self-interests are often in conflict with ours. We can’t depend on the capitalist system to respond to our human needs. Magical thinking will not get us past the pandemic, only the person in the mirror. Editorial Board member and Columnist, Jamala Rogers, founder and Chair Emeritus of the Organization for Black Struggle in St. Louis. She is an organizer, trainer and speaker. She is the author of The Best of the Way I See It – A Chronicle of Struggle. Other writings by Ms. Rogers can be found on her blog Contact Ms. Rogers and BC.

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is published Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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