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Opinion: What Won't Change In America After Tragedies

Updated on June 14, 2020
Photo by Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images via (CC0)
Photo by Kerem Yucel/AFP/Getty Images via (CC0)

I read Romey Louangvilay's article, "Opinion: Black and Asian Communities Must Unite During This Pandemic." I'm African-American, so his viewpoints from an Asian-American perspective left me feeling despondently chagrin with the concept of America ever being great again. He wrote, "After reading more about the increase in racially motivated attacks, I became fixated on a detail that a lot of the perpetrators had in common: they were overwhelmingly Black."

Racism is always going to be in the American fabric. Now that we are sharing the Chernobyl (global) experience, we must realize what this time in human history will do. Life after quarantine will divide this nation even more. The culturally sensitive in this nation must love and value the community even stronger during and after this pandemic.

Individually our race and social lifestyles may not be the same, but our life struggles are. Louangvilay wrote, "In most of the country, people of color often learn about each other through the disparaging white perspective."

Globally, all of us noticed the spike of hate crimes against Asians. Especially since the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in our respective countries. We also know that hate crimes have been on the rise here before that. In an NPR article by Rachel Treisman she wrote, "The FBI's annual tally counted 7,120 hate crimes reported (The U.S. in 2018). The report showed an increase in the number of 'crimes against persons,' such as intimidation, assault, and homicide."

In February of this year, CNN reported a Boston mother and daughter were assaulted by two women. The reason, they thought they were making fun of them.

Socially, this indicates how far we have civilly fallen as a nation. Since we (the culturally sensitive) are aware of this, our attitudes toward interpersonal relationships should be more influential. Our video calls, messaging, and necessity only errands toward relationships outside our race have to have commonality recognition. When we do leave the house, make those salutations impactful.

In my case, I miss and am more appreciative of the Mexican and Bosnian restaurants that are my favorite local staples. I always thanked the staff for their time (cooking food for me). By consistently doing that, the relationships I have with texting/social media friends in other countries became more vital, especially now. If you miss the staff at local restaurants now, do you miss not getting a text from a long-distance friend?

Photo by wheatfieldbrown via (CC0)
Photo by wheatfieldbrown via (CC0)

The people that are attacking other people with cultural differences are showing their value systems, fear intensifies it. On March 1 CBS reported that 38 percent of surveyed American beer drinkers said they would not buy Corona beer “under any circumstances." Grupo Modelo has temporarily stopped its production, while online alcohol sales have spiked.

How the culturally insensitive react to others in this pandemic is systematically embedded. Heidi A. Morefield, a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Global Health Program at the Woodrow Wilson School Center for Health and Wellbeing told Euronews, "The 'reason' comes down to fear of the unknown and of the 'other,' which was encouraged by systemic racism."

She added, "People often reach for the most convenient target to blame." The same racial intolerances occurred for people of African descent during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. When we are emotionally suffering as people, we need reasons for 'why?'

We all have the opportunity now to have lots of introspection time. The hate crime stories that have risen against Asians affected me on a human and ethnic level. African-Americans are historically accustomed to racial and physical injustices in America. Now is the time for humanity to make personal amendments about empathy. I have to think about how I treated anyone outside my race before we got to now. Was I mean to them because they gave me a wary of gestures? Did I think any more or less of them because of racial stereotypes? Was I envious? Did I care about their safety if it didn't affect me or my loved ones? Did I choose to be mean when I didn't have to be?

I can't expect people to change, but if I know what to expect, I can choose how to react.

There's an Arabic bodega in my neighborhood that's within convenient walking distance for us locals. It's ethnically diverse in this pocket, but far from the town majority. It's 74% caucasian and a red state politically. Seeing the cashiers wear face masks and gloves for the first time added to the uncertainty. I remember this teenage African-American kid came in (wearing a black hoodie) and was 25 cents short of buying a snack. The male cashier wasn't budging. "Ah come on man, you can spare a quarter, ya'll own all the gas stations anyway," he said. The cashier flipped him off as the kid left.

That was two years ago.

Image by Robert Roberson Jr. (CC0)
Image by Robert Roberson Jr. (CC0)

In America, the majority will be back to cultural insensitivity once social distancing is lifted. There are restaurants we won't go to anymore and people that we were glad to be distanced from. The reason being, our concepts of community and comfort zones will drastically change. In the aftermath, what this isolation time will do is make it unmistakably known who we chose to love and what establishments we appreciate, meaningfully more. Retail cashiers, open thoughts/texts from friends, check-in phone/video calls, and group chats are our social lifelines now. Especially for singles, single parents, and the widowed.

In 2002 Sandy Dahl, wife of Flight 93 pilot Jason Dahl said of the 9/11 tragedy, "If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate."

So why did me and Louangvilay have to write these articles? I know the digital community (social media) is more meaningful now. It's just those displays of public hatred that make this pandemic life so direful at times.

© 2020 Sy


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