The pandemic and racism…
We’re living in dangerous times. Much of that danger is either created or facilitated by Donald J. Trump, the president of the United States, an inveterate liar, virulent racist, and shameless charlatan. Trump’s lies are not harmless—they can and do precipitate actions that sometimes result in death.
Ethnic-racial aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic…
To date, in the U.S. 3,677,453 people have been infected by COVID-19 and 140,888 have died, with Latinos, Blacks, and Native Americans bearing the greater burden. Per various reports, including of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Latinos have been infected at three times the rate of whites and the nationwide Coronavirus-related rate of hospitalization of Latinos is four times that of whites, and the Black hospitalization rate is five times that of whites. Latinos and African Americans are twice as likely to die from coronavirus infection than whites. While Covid-19 is more dangerous for people 65 years or older, 25% of the Latinos who have died from the coronavirus were younger than 60 years old; only 6% of the Covid-19 deaths among whites were younger than 60 years old.
There are dramatically disproportionate rates of infection and death among American Indians as well. In May, the Navajo nation had the third-highest per capita rate of COVID-19 in the country, after New Jersey and New York. The rate of COVID-19 cases among Indian tribes in Southern Arizona was 1.6 times that of white cases in May, and in Central Arizona the COVID-19 rate for Indian tribes in May was 3.6 times that of white cases.
The Coronavirus-related mortality rate among Indigenous peoples also substantially exceeds that of whites. In Arizona, Native Americans represent 6% of the state’s population but are 16% of the state’s Covid-19 related deaths. In New Mexico, Native Americans account for 60% of the Coronavirus-related deaths but are only 9% of the state’s population.
Obviously, the virus is not an equal-opportunity menace.
Trump’s lies are vile, evil…
In the face of over 140,000 Covid-related deaths, and the grief and suffering those deaths bring to spouses, children, siblings, friends, etc., Trump blatantly and cruelly lies to the country, saying we are winning the battle against Covid-19, that the virus will “disappear” magically overnight, and that 99% of the country’s Covid-19 cases are “totally harmless.” Compounding those lies, Trump is promoting the right-wing conspiracy theory that the CDC—in league with the doctors, the media, and Democrats—is lying to the public about Covid-19 so as to hurt Trump’s reelection.
Trump’s lies are vile and evil, and in addition to his campaign of lies, Trump discourages people from wearing masks by mocking those who do and claiming that people wear masks for political rather than health reasons. Some Trump supporters believe the lies and take no precautions regarding the virus and get infected and/or infect others. He has indoor, no-mask-required rallies and with no social distancing. Against all medical advice, he pushes the reopening of bars, restaurants, etc., hotbeds of Covid-19 contamination.
For many, a Covid-19 infection is fatal. The blood of those victims who contracted the virus as a result of a Trump lie and died as a result is on Trump’s hands.
Are traitors ‘heroes?’…
Trump swims in the cesspool of racism by embracing traitors: Confederate officers and soldiers and the flag the traitors fought under. All of us who stayed awake during history class in middle- and high school know that:
Confederate officers, officials, and soldiers are not “American heroes,” as Trump claims. They were not even Americans. They are traitors. They renounced their American citizenship. They took up arms against the U.S. They killed about 140,000 American soldiers during the American Civil War (about 224,000 others died of disease or starvation or as POWs).
The traitors were motivated by the goal of preserving the most inhumane and brutal form of racism—slavery of black people.
Yet, Donald Trump calls the racist traitors “American heroes” and vows to protect the traitors’ statues and monuments and to imprison anyone who defaces or takes down any traitor statue or monument. Truth is, these statues have very little to do with paying tribute to the Civil War dead. They are a testament to the laws and practices oppressing black people. For, Confederate monuments were built during two key periods of American history: the beginnings of Jim Crow in the 1920s and the civil rights movement in the early 1950s and 1960s. Their purpose was to intimidate blacks and remind them of their status in the Jim Crow South.
Dylann Roof, who murdered nine black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church in 2015 posted a video of himself, with the gun he used to murder in one hand and the Confederate flag in the other hand.
An egregious irony: Many of those who joined Trump in accusing athletes of disrespecting the American flag because they knelt during the National Anthem are often the same folks who go around waving and venerating the traitorous Confederate flag.
The racist campaign is working…
Trump’s clarion call to racists is producing results. The Southern Poverty Law Center and others report that since Trump’s election, racist/hate crimes have increased. At rallies in 2018, Trump repeatedly railed that America was being “invaded” by immigrants. Nine months after one of these rallies, a 21-year-old white man opened fire in a Walmart in El Paso, killing 23 people of Mexican descent and injuring dozens more; he wrote in his “manifesto” that his action was a response to the Mexican “invasion” of Texas.
The blood of the 23 El Paso massacre victims is on Donald Trump’s hands.
How `bout them “fine people”? …
In another instance, Trump described as “fine people” neo-Nazis and other white supremacists who, carrying military-style assault rifles, marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia waving the Confederate and Nazi flags and chanting the Nazi slogan “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us” and other racist and anti-Semitic slurs. Before the rally, white supremacists carrying Nazi flags and armed with AR-15 type of rifles stood outside a synagogue chanting “Sieg Heil” and threatened the temple attendees.
One of these “fine people” murdered 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was there to protest the racism and anti-Semitism of the neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.
“Fine people” indeed …
“I can’t breathe” …
“I can’t breathe” … has become the rallying cry of the movement to hold police who kill people accountable and to root out systemic racism. The movement was ignited by the murder, by choking by Minneapolis police, of George Floyd, a black man who kept telling the policemen “I can’t breathe.” As a veteran of the Chicano Movement and as someone who uttered those very words when I was put in a chokehold as I was being arrested at a demonstration in 1970, I support this movement wholeheartedly. But the phenomenon of police killing unarmed people goes beyond blacks.
In 2017, 22 American Indians or Alaska Natives were killed by police nationwide. One study found that in the period of 1999-2011, Native Americans were the most likely racial group to be killed by law enforcement, followed by African Americans. That study also noted that nationally, while about 0.8% of the population identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, they comprised 1.9% of police killings,
In my home state of Arizona, two recent cases of Mexican Americans killed by police have sparked demonstrations and calls for justice. Carlos Ingram López of Tucson was held by police face down with a hood over his head. He kept saying “I can’t breathe” until he died. In Phoenix James “Jay” Garcia was shot by police on July 4 as he sat in his car.
Between 2016 and 2018, Latinos in California represented 46% of deadly police shootings while comprising 39% of the state population. Nationally, 16% of the people killed by police in 2017 were Latinos (112 Latinos out of 715 total police killings).
Trump encourages violence by citizens and by police. In June, 2020, Trump expressed support for a St. Louis couple who pointed firearms (one an assault rifle) at black protest marchers. In 2017, Trump told a national gathering of police that they should not be gentle with people they arrest or interact with. In 2016, during a rally Trump openly told his supporters to “knock the crap” out of anyone who did not support Trump and promised to pay the legal fees if they were arrested or sued.
Attacks on people of color by private citizens and by police—attacks that sometimes result in death—are inevitable when the president of the United States encourages them. Combine that with a deadly pandemic that is fueled in large part by the lies of the president of the United States and you have a very dangerous situation. c/s
Copyright 2020 by Salomon Baldenegro. To contact Sal write: Salomonrb@msn.com All photos are in the public domain.