My 101-year-old Aunt Snooks died the same day the U.S. hit a COVID milestone: one million humans lives gone. There was more fanfare around auntie’s death than this country made around the stupefying number of people who have perished since the pandemic. I feel like I’m one of the estimated ten million who have lost a family member to the virus, but not quite. More about that later.

The growing infection and death rates means that I am still on my crusade to educate people on how they can guard themselves against the virus. I am still persuading people that we all have an obligation beyond our nuclear families to fight for the safety of ourselves as well as our communities.

Trump and his cronies still need to be held criminally liable for their reckless approach to the pandemic that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of senseless deaths. Most health and medical expert agree that a serious comprehensive and coordinated response early on would have greatly reduced the number of infection cases and deaths.

None of the western countries experienced this kind of carnage. France - a little over 29,000,000 cases, nearly 150,000 deaths and 80 per cent fully vaccinated. Germany - 26,0000,000 cases, nearly 140,000 deaths and 78 per cent fully vaccinated. The U.K. - 22,000,000 cases, 178,000 deaths with 75 percent fully vaccinated.

Over in the corner, claiming to be the smartest, most powerful nation on the planet is the United States: 83,000,000+ cases of infection, one million deaths and 66 per cent fully vaccinated. Just shameful.

If you have been reading anything I’ve written about the pandemic, you know that what boils my blood is the disproportionately negative impact it’s had on Black folks. I’m not hating on the virus; the virus is doing what viruses do. It is non-discriminatory on all counts; it’s just looking for a host to cozy up to.

The conditions that have made Black people and other oppressed nationalities more vulnerable to the coronavirus and all of its variants is the system of capitalism and its racist institutions. The heavy burden of the death surges, the social isolation and the financial stress have taken their toll. It’s been like watching a futuristic movie that a Black person didn’t write. You know the Black people will die before the end of the movie. Those that don’t perish will carry the scars internally and openly for a long time and be human reminders of the disaster they survived.

Most governmental decisions about COVID have been made through the lens of capitalism. Corporate exploitation must go on. Yet, the government seems to be helpless in the face of the price gouging that continues to victimize the most vulnerable.

Now, back to my beloved aunt. Last year at 99 years old - still ambulatory and in good mind and spirit - she fell in her home. She broke a bone in her shoulder and was sent to rehab where she contracted COVID. The hospital put her on a respirator and checked her off as a casualty. My sister wasn’t having it and was determined to write a different ending. She had my Aunt Snooks transported to her home in another state where auntie was doted on by my sister, her daughter and granddaughter.

My aunt went on to be happily present for the 100th birthday party that family had been planning for two years. A couple of months ago, Aunt Snooks suffered a mild stroke. She drifted into her 101st birthday this month but never regained her full faculties. My family wonders out loud how long she would’ve lived had she not been touched by COVID.

I may not be one of the ten million who directly lost a loved one to the pandemic but I’m still a statistic. I’m one of the 82 percent of Black folks who know someone who was hospitalized or died because of the virus. That percentage is higher than in any other racial group.

The death of my aunt has given me renewed energy. I’m recommitted to the dismantling of the systems that produce and perpetuate poverty, inferior education, disparities in health and housing and the trauma that enshrouds our communities. COVID-19 is like the dye they inject into your body to show where the problem areas are that need treatment.

The pandemic will linger on but eventually it will be put in check. Capitalism is the cancer that will continue to destroy human life in various ways and metastasize the ecosystem we live in. That’s where our organized efforts need to localize.

BlackCommentator.com 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 jamalarogers.com. Contact Ms. Rogers and BC.

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