Corporate public relations firms are bombarding the airwaves these days with the message that “we are in this together.” But as the horrific events in Minneapolis, Central Park, Louisville, KY, and Brunswick, GA brutally demonstrate (George Floyd, Christian Cooper, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery-say their names), this presumption of being “in this together” has never been a reality for people of color in this country. America has never been America for black men, and the COVID-19 crisis has only shed an even more blinding light on the disparity that exists between those of us who are white and those of us who are not.
In our community and across the nation, people of color have been disproportionately infected, sickened, and killed by the virus because they work predominantly in “essential” jobs that pay less than a living wage. It is no secret that people of color in our community and across the nation are being displaced from affordable housing and have less access to quality healthcare and community schools. While the virus has killed over 120,000 in our country, it is the injustice inherent in our society that explains the demographics of the victims. The virus isn’t just killing people in our country, injustice is.
Horrific incidents like the brutal murders we have recently witnessed capture our attention for a moment and cause those of us who are white to wring our hands, but we would be wise to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the hate crimes and the slow violence of racism that has plagued our land for 400 years. We may all be in the storm of COVID, but people of color, and particularly black men, have never ever been together with us in the same boat.
Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb, Pastor