Spare me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
It would be uncontroversial to say America is handling the coronavirus pandemic poorly. As a longstanding beacon of geopolitical clout, the country has not appeared this splintered since, well, 2016.
The storied myth of American excellence has evaporated in this time of crisis. Countries around the world are no longer looking at us as a torchbearer.
Perhaps the best word to describe the country’s atmosphere is — fragile.
In addition to exposing the fragility of our health care system, Covid-19 has spotlighted systematic failure in American infrastructure and how the most vulnerable among us have been left by the wayside.
Insurance companies are overwhelmed, banks are frantic, and corporate titans are scrambling. Those vulnerable monoliths are in need of more than just billion dollar bailouts. They need love.
Tactless sarcasm aside, the less lucky folk have been left without loans, access to affordable health care, or sensible leadership in a time of uncertainty and isolation.
Covid-19 has been indiscriminate in how it has spread and invaded communities. Everyone has been forced to make adjustments in their lives; no one is leaving untouched.
Although if coronavirus is colorblind, the weakness of our institutions have been a seeing eye dog.
The brunt of the virus has been felt most heavily by minorities and those on shaky footing prior to the pandemic. Coronavirus has exacerbated the inequities each group faces.
Black Americans are dying at a disproportionately high rate, the Hispanic and Latino community remains in limbo as the service industry is gutted, all while anti-Asian discrimination continues to be rampant.
Those problems may appear cherry-picked, but are in reality a direct line from unresolved issues. Issues that not only require immediate attention, but decisive action that carries beyond this chapter of pandemonium.
The black community has had a historically fraught relationship with health care systems, surprise. Black Americans are additionally saddled with statistics regarding higher rates of preëxisting health problems and unfavorable living circumstances. A pandemic further complicates that ongoing struggle.
Meanwhile, America is refusing responsibility for one of it’s worst kept secrets: that the bedrock of the country’s cheap labor in hospitality and service is Latino. What now with the tightening of immigration and millions of workers without claim to any form of financial assistance? How will this impact business owners who depend on Latino workers to keep their enterprise afloat? Those are questions that need to be expediently answered and incorporated as mainstay policy.
In addition to socioeconomic and health care fallout, coronavirus has developed into an issue of civil rights.
Asian Americans have always lugged around an identity of ‘other,’ increasing negative perception and the rise of suspicion has certainly not helped. The White House has even taken to racially profile Covid-19 as the Chinese virus or Kung Flu. What normally could be shrugged off as benign xenophobia, becomes more problematic as Asian Americans are harassed and attacked.
As much as the spirit of Americana leans on diversity and the celebration of our uniqueness, the antecedent should warn it will be as difficult as possible given the hidden barriers shepherding the underprivileged.
Not to mention the glacier of dilemmas the country already faces, magnified by this health crisis. Problems that have been festering under the surface and are no longer ignorable:
- Class struggle
- Minority labor
- Public education
- Partisan bickering
- Student debt/mounting university costs
- Service industry standards/support
- Health care infrastructure
- Superfluous bureaucracy
The pandemic has yielded that the United States’s efforts in providing liberty and justice for all remains speculative. After a voicemail of silence, individuals have been forced to look inward for answers.
If anything is clear in the looming fog, it’s that the country will need a sobering look at overhauling the weaknesses it has tried to hide for years.