Celebrating Amid Dueling Pandemics

There are many celebrating today. It’s a day to celebrate, if for no other reason, than everyone is sick of being couped up. At least that’s what it seems like, from my bubble. It stands to reason that I’m not exactly inline with the zeitgeist. I’ve been 95% isolated and in quarantine, since March. Most people around me seem to like suggesting that I can still get out though, right? I don’t really feel like celebrating though.

Right now there is a new pandemic, and one that is older than the reason for celebrating this day we call Independence Day. Over 200 years older. I’m going to address the newer one, because the older, generational, and systemic pandemic is not only affected by this new virus among us, but we will still have this original plague, when the virus is eventually contained and we have a viable vaccine/treatment. We must mitigate this virus, because it only stands to make our work to eradicate racism, that much harder.

I see people sick of this virus, of the economy being shut down, and people needing paychecks. I also see people complaining about wearing masks, needing to go to hair appointments, going to pools, restaurants, planning trips, and taking selfies with people they do not live with. I see people screaming about the infringement of their rights, to ask them to wear a mask and socially distance themselves from other people.

While I stay in my isolation, with no human contact, it seems pretty clear from the news, from the scientists, and the experts, that we may be in this til next year, at least. If we are to really come to terms with that, then we must also come to terms with the fact that it is going to last that long, whether we isolate, socially distance ourselves from others, test, contact trace, and shut this virus down, or whether we allow it to run rampant across this country.

Even if things are not bad where you are, this is our reality right now.

It seems, right now, that many in this country are good with rolling the dice on their health, and dismiss that their actions are creating a higher risk for others. Those who seem to be of this mind, are not the ones who will hurt the most from their actions. I’m not talking about me. I’m fine. I have a full-time job, and I can stay isolated. It may suck, but I have 3 cats, and I can pay my bills. The people who will be crushed by this virus, over the next year, will be those who are lower income and those who are Black and Brown. It is not just that poverty is systemically and generationally racist, it’s also that health care in this country is systemically racist too. Black and Brown people will run into roadblocks, in getting care, that white people are less likely to face.

I look around the world, at the countries that have legitimately flattened the curve, and compare that to here in the United States. I feel we are on the precipice of losing the moral argument of our ideal of freedom. Will the future hold that our country started out with a noble idea, but was desolated by selfishness and hatred towards science and scientific experts? How can we be a great nation, if we are not built on one that values the highest pursuits of truth, knowledge, and the full potential of it’s citizens?

How can we do anything close to that, if we only care about ourselves, and not the welfare of others?

Freedom isn’t about selfishness, but about equality for all of us. That means, no one person’s freedom can be more important than that of another’s. To deny this, is to deny the basis for equality. So, while people dismiss that they are not at risk, I would ask people to consider how many degrees of separation they are from anyone who cannot afford to get sick. What will inevitably happen, as this continues to spread to low income communities?

I see fragile white comments about racism not being a problem, but here’s the thing. Not seeing racism doesn’t make it go away, just like not paying attention to the virus and taking it seriously, won’t make it go away.

There’s something else too. Most of the white people who claim there is no racism, are also quick to claim they are not racist. So, if that’s true, then don’t you owe it to your commitment to not be racist, to not perpetuate racism, to listen and lift up Black voices? To care about the welfare of those who are at a disadvantage? Is it not part of not being racist, to believe Black people, when they tell you that they need Black lives to matter, because in their experiences, it is not mattering equally to the lives of others?

That brings me to the older pandemic. Yes, the one of racism in this country. If you follow my blog, or are paying attention at all, you know I cannot cover all of the racism in this country in one blog post. For now, I want to talk about Breonna Taylor.

I have been wondering if I should write about her story and advocate for justice. I follow a lot of people who are doing that. People with actual audiences. People who can speak more eloquently on this injustice, than I can. The answer is that until there is justice, it is on every person to keep pushing.

In the midnight hour of March 13, Breonna Taylor was asleep in her bed and her boyfriend was with her. Intruders stormed in the door, and her boyfriend grabbed his legally owned gun, to protect him and his girlfriend. Police officers, who were supposed to be issuing a no-knock warrant, stormed into her apartment, and shot her 8 times, while she slept.

It took 3 months for the Louisville Police Department to release the incident report, and it’s almost blank, listing her injuries as “none”.

Louisville police release the Breonna Taylor incident report. It’s virtually blank

There is still no answer as to why her apartment was approved for this warrant, when neither Breonna Taylor, or her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, are drug dealers. Breonna Taylor was an EMT, and Kenneth Walker was about to start a job at the US Postal Service. They shouldn’t have to be saints, or angels, but let’s just at least agree that there has still been no justification provided by the authorities, for why her apartment was put on this approved warrant list.

Louisville detective who obtained no-knock warrant for Breonna Taylor’s apartment reassigned

What we know about Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend and why charges against him were dropped

I wrote a post, a couple of weeks ago. At the end, I encouraged everyone to make 3 calls, to demand justice for the murder of Breonna Taylor. Continuing the Work of an Ally.

The next day after posting that, I called Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at 502-574-2003 to demand he fire officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. If you do this, you have to press 4 for the directory. Then type his name, last name then first name = 34724374734. That gives his ext. 5025744545. Press # to be transferred. Then it hangs up. I could not figure out a way to successfully leave a message.

I called the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron at 502-696-5300 opt 1- to demand he charge the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor. They updated their phone system, to make option 1 feedback on Breonna Taylor’s murder, but they haven’t charged the officers who murdered her.

I called the Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder at 502-574-7111 to demand he complete his investigation and immediately turn it over to Breonna’s lawyers and the Attorney General. I chose opt 6 then 4 to get to the Chief’s office. The mailbox is full. The AG hasn’t finished the investigation, or cleaned out their mailbox.

Breonna Taylor was murdered on March 13. It’s been 4 months, and nothing even close to justice, has been done.

I want everyone to do this, particularly white people in this country who do not believe that there is racism, that our justice system is not racist, and that they themselves to not believe they are racist, and really don’t want to perpetuate racism. I want them to be frustrated for 7 minutes. It will give them a single drop of the ocean of frustration her family and her boyfriend are living through.

This last week, I did what Bernice King asked:

I would like white Americans to call this number too. It will patch you through to the mailbox of city council representatives, to leave them messages demanding justice for one of their constituents. I spent 17 minutes doing this. I want every white person who really means something real, when they say they aren’t racist, to be someone who supports justice for Black people in action. Some of the mailboxes are full, and they should all be full, until they do their job.

The investigation should be completed by now. The police officers need to be fired, arrested, charged, and justice pursued, but none of this has happened. There cannot be justice for all, if there is no justice for Breonna Taylor. No, it doesn’t stop with her, but you can start here. You can choose to care enough about this to take a 1/2 hour hour out of your day to demand justice for a fellow American.

Since many have watched Hamilton, this weekend, and people are celebrating our partial independence, we might take to heart the words spoken:

But we’ll never be truly free
Until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me
You and I. Do or die.”

Hamilton, My Shot

Slavery was fought for, by confederate states, and police departments formed, both in the north and the south, to keep Black people in line.

How the U.S. Got Its Police Force

Jim Crow laws, redlining, white flight, segregation, and the for-profit prison systems have kept Black Americans oppressed and with less justice. Less justice is no justice. It is not equal or free.

Please speak up to elected officials in Louisville, KY, the state of Kentucky, and your own representatives. We must demand justice for Breonna Taylor. After that, we have a long list of people who’s families and friends are also awaiting justice.

This is just some of those names:

George Floyd: Timeline of black deaths caused by police

If we really want to be able to have true pride in our freedom, we first have to make sure all of our fellow Americans are free and equal. We still have a lot of work to do, and it’s not someone else’s job. Every citizen has a responsibility to fight for the equality and freedom of all citizens. We can’t do that by just firing off fireworks and waving a flag. We can’t do that by ignoring a global pandemic, or by ignoring the murder of Breonna Taylor. If we are going to be a free nation, we all have to demand it. Not just ourselves, but for every citizen.

For Freddie Gray

I want justice, for Freddie Gray.

I don’t think radicalized is the word I would use, to describe Baltimore. (http://www.newyorker.com/news/benjamin-wallace-wells/what-have-the-freddie-gray-trials-achieved) Baltimore seems to be a city at an epi-center of what I would say are polarized communities across America. I say polarized, because there are divides in the community. I don’t know if this is the reality for people in Baltimore, but that is how the media is portraying it.

I want justice, for Freddie’s Gray.

I want my fellow citizens to have equal protection by the police who bravely serve our communities. I want the police who serve our communities, and pledge to protect all citizens, to do so with such vigilance, that they hold their fellow officers to the same. I want to hold my fellow citizens to the standard we all strive for, and to stand for our rights together. I want elected officials, appointed judiciaries, and officers of our armed forces to protect and represent all of us. That is the true American Dream, for me,

I want justice, for Freddie Gray.
I want equality for ALL my fellow citizens.