A Bitter Root -The Pandemic of Racism

In the era of COVID19 pandemic, we seem to be experiencing a pandemic of another kind – the pandemic of racism. In the past 3 months alone, we have seen Ahmaud Arbery gunned down by a ’retired” police officer and his vigilante son; Breonna Taylor, a “heroic” EMT killed by police in a raid on her own home; and George Floyd mercilessly choked to death under the knee of a police officer while he cried out for help to breathe as several other officers stood by. These acts of vicious, unnecessary violence against African Americans is a sick reflection of the scourge of racism on American society.

This is not an issue that only African Americans should be concerned about. This is an issue that should concern every American. Racism is a bitter root that stains the fabric of American society.

Ever since this nation’s founding, African Americans were considered by whites as less than human (3/5 of a man), white Americans have continued to treat them as less. This is visible in every facet of American society: less access to health care; less access to quality education; less access to financial resources, loans and banking; even less access to the American dream of home ownership. But it also manifests itself in a perverted way of causing bad situations for them to be more: more in prison; more dropouts, more sick and dying of preventable diseases; more in poverty. This type of treatment has horrifically affected African Americans for sure, and it is eating away at all that is “good and just” about America.

When will it end? Many ask this question every time we witness another merciless killing or racial injustice, as if there is no hope for turning off this water hose that spews such filthy behavior. But that is just the point—it is not African Americans alone who can and should demand a halt to this foolishness! We all have a stake in this because the way our African American brothers and sisters are treated is the measure of the health and safety of American society. Why do we say this? Because even as the great poem First They Came states, at some point, if this racial pandemic does not cease, Americans will be coming after each other.

We need to all take a lesson from African Americans. Even after 400 years of being treated as less than, African Americans have done so much to build this nation—from the plantation economies to the White House; from the railroads to the shipyards; from the steel yards to the entrepreneurs of Wall Street; from science and technology to space exploration. They have built so much, yet because of the pandemic of racism, white America systemically refuses to acknowledge their contribution and share in the bounty.

African Americans are some of the most resilient people this world has ever known. Instead of trying to destroy them, white America should join in with everyone else to learn from them, honor and appreciate the strength and contributions of this great people.

It is up to all of us to do everything we can together to root out the pandemic of racism! If we do not, it may be that America will soon be responsible for its own undoing.