As the current epidemic sweeps across the globe, we've seen many people cooperate for the common good. For most of us, it's unlike anything we've experienced in our lifetime. As this worldwide challenge brings out the best in our species, there's also a shadowy flip side that must be acknowledged and confronted. Read on...
Racism: "The Chinese Virus"- Although it is true that Wuhan, China is the global epicenter of the outbreak, using terms such as the Chinese Virus, Wuhan Virus and Kung Flu only serve to feed anti-Asian xenophobia and racism. Some historians say such language is part of a long history of blaming foreigners, particularly Asians, for epidemics. As a result, we've seen a recent increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans, and the people targeted are experiencing mental and physical health consequences. Those of us who do not speak out or just stand by perpetuate the abuse. Small gestures of support can give victims comfort and a sense of protection. Speak out when you witness such abuse or maybe just stand next to the victim. Show your solidarity, if you can do so safely.
“The language of disease has always been linked to our discourse around immigration. I think it’s pretty clear that our fears about immigrants and outsiders have always been bolstered by fears about disease and contamination.”
The Generational Split- At first we heard that those over 50 years old were the higher risk population. Now, we're seeing a growing number of hospitalized young people. Have you heard (or said or thought) any of these?:
• I'm in my 20's (or 30's or 40's) so I don't have to worry. It's really not my problem.
• Covid-19 is an opportunity to cull older people. They're on their way out any way.
• Boomers aren't taking the coronavirus warnings seriously!
• This virus is the #BoomerRemover!
• Millenials/Gen Z aren't taking the coronavirus warnings seriously!
• College students continue to #CoronaParty. What's wrong with them??
All of these notions reflect AGEISM, in one direction or the other. When we label people as an age group, we miss their humanity, their loves, their losses, their laughter, tears, and the stories of their lives. We devalue their past and their future. We can choose to diminish others with our labels or we can choose to be curious and compassionate.
Workforce Inequality-It's mostly those in white-collar higher paying jobs with good health care and paid leave policies who have the option of working from home. Many “essential” blue-collar workers, such as those keeping factories running making toilet paper and sanitation products, or those responsible for staffing pharmacies and delivering groceries, have no option to work from home, and are less likely to have paid leave and health coverage. They are also more likely to be women and/or people of color.
Data shows that those in lower economic strata are more likely to catch Covid-19 and more likely to die from it. Even those who remain healthy are more likely to suffer loss of income or health care. At the same time, inequality itself may act as a disease multiplier. Research on influenza shows that, during an epidemic, poverty and inequality worsen transmission and mortality for everyone.
Thus, in our current culture, the pandemic not only drives an increase in wealth disparity between white collar workers and hourly wage earners, it also leads to rising rates of current disease and chronic illness.
White Nationalism- “We are seeing a huge uptick in rhetoric from hate groups during the pandemic," said Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center. With much of the country sheltering in place or practicing social distancing, people are more exposed to an increase in extremist movements online. Much of the rhetoric is focused on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories or promotes "accelerationism," a fringe philosophy that advocates mass violence to fuel society's collapse. Federal investigators have even learned that white supremacists in the US have discussed plans to use the coronavirus as a bioweapon, targeting law-enforcement agents, Jews and "nonwhite" people.
Spanish speaking people in the U.S. are getting less Covid-19 information and support - see this article.
American Indian and Alaskan Native people have an increased risk of homelessness, poverty, substance abuse, health problems and trauma. As this article describes, practicing social isolation and providing needed services to this population is a great challenge.
The Homeless have few options to self-isolate and still get the care they need. Studies show that their loss of agency makes post-traumatic stress disorders more likely. Read more here.
Womens' Rights are being challenged and curtailed under the guise of national pandemic control. Read this article about what the Ohio attorney general ordered and these twoarticles on the gender disparity evident in the impacts of the pandemic globally.
Gun purchases have skyrocketed. Whether it's to protect their cache of toilet paper or to survive during the coming apocalypse, gun buyers reflect a paranoid fear that certainly doesn't feed the common good. On the other hand, this is nothing new - gun sales always increase after any alarming event. Still...
Any separations we make in differentiating the victims of this pandemic reflect our own failure of compassion. Whether aged, immunocompromised, disabled, foreign-born, poor or homeless, every one of us deserves care, support, health, life and compassion. We share a common humanity. We are ALL in this together. Be kind, be mindful, be compassionate - for yourself and for all of us.
Prior issues of the Train Station are now available on the Train Station web site - check it out!
• M.O.D. (Men of Difference) Squad- for men that have experienced negative prejudgment due to race, orientation or culture. If you have experienced Racism, Classism, Ableism, Anti-Semitism, Ageism or Heterosexism, this is a space for you to express, be empowered, learn and share. Third Wednesdays 7-8 pm ET https://zoom.us/j/7494100767
Dial in: (646) 876-9923 or (669) 900-6833
Meeting ID: 749 410 0767
• White Men Undoing Racismmonthly zoom callsponsored by Metro NY Tristate - White men doing their work and getting past resistance and triggers. All men, no matter your viewpoint, are welcome! Third Sundays 7 pm ET https://zoom.us/j/998745964
Dial in: (646) 558-8656 or (669) 900-6833
Meeting ID: 998 745 964
(event submissions for future issues of the Train Station are welcome!)
The Train Station welcomes comments, ideas,
and constructive feedback!