I never have to worry about ICE harassment or deportation because I am a white woman. If things get dire during COVID-19, I can walk up, grab a bag of food, and be on my merry way.
ICE is someone’s everyday reality. It is just another Tuesday for my neighbors. I was confronted with my privilege while on a food distribution call with nonprofits, foundations, churches, local government facilities, and elected officials to figure out how to get food into vulnerable populations. I was angry sad, and still privileged. People literally have no access to food because of poverty, food deserts, and lack of transportation during good times. Now our neighbors in need are afraid of receiving food from distribution sites because they think it is an ICE trap. What the actual F*#k!?
I am privileged in so many ways. (I’m sure that there are holes in this article’s argument that I’m not aware of because of my privilege). We have some savings. We get to work from home. We have our health. We have a small income stream. As I sit here in my quarantined privilege, there are people whom our society has deemed essential: risking their lives in hazardous environments without protective gear, without health insurance, and at minimum wage. They are held hostage to serve and protect humanity because they can’t afford to stay home or to lose their health insurance during a pandemic. How?! How can we deem someone essential and not provide them with their safety needs, hazard pay, or even a living wage? *Screams in a bag*.
We are collectively beginning to see that our value as humans is not tied to our labor, and that perhaps healthcare is a human right not to be tethered to our work. The key is not to despair. The key is to recognize and acknowledge the privilege we have so that we can bring more people who did not have a voice back into the conversation.
We are all in this together. The coronavirus forced us to confront the disparities and systems waiting to fail. The zero-sum, scorched earth, scarcity mindset of “I win, you lose” brought us to the point of near collapse. Never let a good pandemic go to waste.
We can discard the old ways and start to take care of each other, our communities, and the planet we share. We now get the opportunity to reframe the conversation to “I win, you win”, “You win, I win”, and “We win, our community wins”. We get to build a new economy together. We start by serving others; we start by being each other’s keeper. We start by acknowledging our privilege, learning how we can help, and then show up to do the work with our hands and/or voices.
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