American Genocide?

Are you expendable? If you die, will you just be reported as another Covid death, with the caveat that dismisses your death because you had “underlying conditions,” or were part of a group that was already vulnerable?

Someone please explain to me how inhibiting our access to medical information that can save or endanger our lives is not genocide. When the leader of a “free world” doesn’t like the numbers, so he orders that hospitals stop reporting them, and start using a different system, that will produce numbers he likes. This sounds eerily similar to a proclamation previously made that the reason our numbers are so high is because we keep testing. “So I said to them, slow down the testing!”

https://apple.news/AqitIgLzVRnuFLvKx2FCUEA

I literally plan my level of protection based on the numbers being rolled out. Now I can’t even trust that. It’s one thing to stand on your “stage” and contradict all science and medicine for political gain. It’s quite another to prevent scientists and medical professionals from reaching your constituents, thereby necessarily expediting their deaths, if not facilitating or causing them to begin with. If a doctor makes such a negligent move, he or she can be sued for medical negligence. If a store does something irresponsible that causes medical damage, up to and including death, they can be sued for negligence.

But the President of the United States can intentionally impede the distribution of medical records and knowledge to an entire country, contributing to and or causing the deaths of many, many Americans, and that’s just… What? What do you call that? Politics? Government? What is it that my life is being compromised in the name of? Because I consider taking an act that causes the death of thousand, if not “millions… billions… trillions” of people, the very definition of genocide.

Merriam Webster defines genocide as the following: “genocide -noun-

geno·cide | \ ˈje-nə-ˌsīd \: the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/genocide

We already know this disease affects black and minority people of color more than white, or non-black/minority POC. If I wasn’t sure of this from the studies, I now know 10 different people who have had the virus. Six of them can be dismissed as first responders or people working in the medical field who were more exposed than others, and probably expected they would eventually contracted the virus. Luckily they all survived. Out of the 10, two of them were black or minority people of color. All of them survived. Two of them were hospitalized. One who was hospitalized had underlying autoimmune issues. The other one spent a week in the hospital, and almost didn’t make it. She’s black. I spoke with her a few days ago and she has lost three family members to the virus. In some other countries and continents, this very virus is being accurately referred to as genocide.

https://abcnews.go.com/amp/International/indigenous-peoples-south-america-face-genocide-coronavirus-pandemic/story?id=71256909

Now we have been ordered to open the schools across the country, whether or not we live in states where the numbers exceed 10,000 new cases a day, and where courts and other organizations that are able to take independent action are going back to phase 1 precautions because of the increase in transmission and no sign of slowing. (Ironically, mostly in top state swear political conventions are scheduled to be held, or no mask mandates have been ordered by the state despite drastic case increases in cases and records broken daily.)

This is happening as hospitals reach near capacity and have trouble disposing of bodies quickly enough, necessitating refrigerated trucks and storage spaces to send our corpses. The corpses of the immunocompromised. The corpses of the elderly. The corpses of the obese, whether they are obese due to medical complications or medications, disease, or struggling with weight conditions in general. The corpses of the poor, the disadvantaged, the people with less access to healthcare, and the people who fall into higher risk categories simply because of the pigment of their skin. The people who have been labeled as expendable when making decisions to proceed with the next phase of re-opening, including sending our children in to schools, “or else.”

“Open the schools… Or else!“

Or else: federal funding will be pulled, and the schools will not be able to educate anyone. Families asking to send their children to school are doing so primarily because either they have been led to believe the virus is a hoax, the most irresponsible thing I have ever seen a president do in my lifetime, or because they don’t have a choice because either they are in single income households, or in dual income household they can’t afford to support on one income, and they have children who are either too young, or not otherwise able to self regulate and self monitor enough to do virtual education without adult supervision, and they can’t continue to provide shelter for those children if they don’t go to school. This is far different than a need for childcare.

If a family has to choose between being able to put a roof over their head of their child, and sending them into a building where it is almost assured their child will be exposed to the virus, something is wrong with the way things are being governed. Other countries deal with this virus without families having to choose to be careless about the virus out of a need to survive “the American dream.” For some, the American dream is not the same dream Martin Luther King Jr. referred to in his famous speech. The American dream is a tragedy of epic proportions.

Does the American dream include the right to live?

When I am seeing article after article about people who have already returned to the schools to clean, to prep their classrooms, or to begin music or sport practices, and have had to either suspend those activities or are dealing with active community transmission at the schools already, including a local custodian now on a ventilator, and we haven’t even opened them yet, what business do we have opening schools as a whole, but especially in the “hot spots,” like Florida, which has topped all other states in new cases and broken its own record multiple times, but has ordered all schools to open for the Fall, completely contradicting the recommendations of virtually every heath organization or specialist in existence?

To do so will result in those who are financially able choosing virtual education to keep their children and themselves safe, including the children of most of the people making these decisions. It will also cause teachers and staff who are able to, to walk away from the profession. They are choosing their lives over their livelihood. The educational system will suffer. What will be left in the schools are the children of parents who think the best thing for their children is to go to school, because their mental health requires school services. Because they are tired of being at home. Because they have to go to work and don’t want their children home alone.

That is the system we have established in America. Schools are set up during the hours parents work, and they are staggered has to start times to help older kids watch younger kids after school until parents get home. It is not childcare. It is a system we have set up so that those who choose to serve society by educating children, or doing so during the hours those children’s parents choose to contribute to society in whatever ways they work. If school was some thing done at home, and there was no other way to care for children, our society would have devised a different plan for childcare.

Those who rely on it because we have establish a system in America where the poorest people have to rely on two incomes, and usually can’t survive on one, and possibly can’t survive one or two months without income. Further, the moratorium on evictions and disconnection of utilities in America is a joke.

What few people understand is that they are not waiving these fees. They are piling up your rent and utilities, and as soon as the orders against evictions and utilities shut offs ends, Americans will be expected to pay back all of the missing rent and utilities immediately, and they will no longer be restricted from evicting people or shutting off their utilities if they are not able to catch up the following month. Since most people have not been earning income during the last few months, or have not been earning the same income, this means as soon as the economy is re-opened, many families will go back to work, but will also face eviction and struggle to get back on their feet. Some will become homeless. Some will never recover. Some will commit suicide. Some already have. Some will eventually make it. Many will be dealing with the unexpected loss of family or friends to the virus. Many will be dealing with guilt, wondering if they exposed people they cared about to the virus. This includes the students who will be forced to go back to school in person.

Is it harder to bury your child, care for a permanently disabled child, or to become homeless with a living child? Are these YOUR choices, or someone else’s? Yet?

Those who worry about their children’s mental health at home, will be shocked to discover how their children’s mental health will be affected by the loss of a teacher or a friend, or the anxiety caused by the precautions that dangle hugs and camaraderie in their faces at school, without allowing them to actually touch or receive what they need from friends, educators and school staff.

An article published by a psychologist addressed these issues, and concluded that the psychological damage caused by returning to school too early will likely be much greater than what would be caused by a few more weeks or months of virtual education and delaying the opening of brick and mortar schools.

Of those who are forced to return because of financial issues, family structure, or educational needs, they will be walking into a school knowingly exposing themselves to a virus that 30% of children tested test positive for. While it is rare, the virus can kill children. It can kill children without underlying conditions. While it may be rare, I don’t think the parents who lose children will take much comfort in how rare they are when burying their children.

Still others will not have to bear the experience of burying their children. But instead, will eventually have to retire to take care of their permanently disabled children, who have developed the rare autoimmune disorder that is much like the one I experience as an adult, but in children. I can barely deal with this condition as an adult. I can hardly imagine a child enduring it.

I pray for the sanity and survival of the parents who end up in this situation, that they don’t blame themselves because of the situation they were forced into. That they find a way for their children to survive in the world if they are not able to care for themselves anymore, and they will outlive the parents who are caring for them. Most of who will not have life insurance policies and other securities many privileged and non-minority groups are more likely to have. Many will not have access to mental health care when they need it the most, in the aftermath of the virus. Some will give up. Some will commit suicide. Some already have. Some will survive. Somehow. And probably be judged for how they do it.

They will not understand how they ended up here, when they followed the directions of their government, and tried to be responsible parents, providing for their children’s shelter, psychological well-being, and education. In short, many minority and poor families will be burying children.

“What do you mean, we assumed the risk? What does that mean legally? Our child is gone!”

I can’t help but imagine these children and teachers walking into the school, and picturing people walking into gas chambers in Germany. I guess it would be more like running through a gas chamber with an exit, and hoping you make it to the other side before you have inhaled so much gas that you don’t make it out.

How many will the America history books say were lost to the 2020 Covid Pandemic? Do you think you will escape without losing someone you know? Someone you love? Have you already?

Of the teachers and staff who survive, we will be left with only teachers who manage to survive the virus, which will disproportionately affect the minorities and black teachers and staff, along with substitutes and poor, single or inexperienced educators who have no choice other than to return to school. Ironically, the reason some of them have no choice is because they can’t afford to lose their medical insurance because of underlying conditions. The underlying conditions that make us insignificant when deaths are reported, and dismissed because “they had underlying conditions.” The translation of this is, “they were fat, old, black, or sick.”

Once we lose them, and those who can’t afford to walk away from the profession, how much better do you think the American educational system will be when it’s over? We weren’t exactly leading the planet with our education system to begin with. We were already struggling. Teachers are already underpaid and overworked. And that is an understatement. Now they are expected to risk their lives like a first responder, but with none of the added securities first responders have that provide for their family members in the event that they’re high risk job leaves their families to survive without them. Their families will be left with nothing. It is unlikely they will recover much if they are left disabled because of the long term affects of the virus, which are still being discovered, and which continue to present as much more long-lasting and permanent complications the more we learn.

So again, I ask, if action has been taken which is knowingly going to negatively impact groups of people, in particular, protected groups of people, such as the elderly, or minorities, or disabled people, up to and including their death, how is this action not the very definition of genocide?

I fail to see the difference.

By My Silence…

This is an apology. It’s an apology to all black people. I’m apologizing because I’m sorry and embarrassed about some of my past behaviors.

I never considered myself racist. I’ve never picked my friends based on the color of their skin. I have always had friends from every race and ethnicity. Being a military brat virtually ensured this. I have stood up for people in all kinds of minority classes, as a child, as an adult, and as an attorney.

I thought that was enough.

I am a police supporter. My father is a retired military police officer. My first serious relationship was with someone who became a police officer while we were dating, and I spent a year and a half raising his child with him. I married a police officer and had a child with him, who I’m raising right in the middle of all of this mess. (Later divorced, but that’s a different story.) I still have many friends and people I care about in law enforcement. Photos like this one bring me to tears every time.

Until now, I’ve spent the majority of the last decade responding to every incident of police brutality (or perceived police brutality) jumping to the defense of police. I understand that side of it. I understand the split second decisions they have to make, and I understand that they don’t have time to even process whether or not to make a racist decision most of the time.

What I was missing is that it was never about any specific black person or police officer. It was about racism. And on that issue, I am no expert. Racism is dangerous across the board. But what makes it more dangerous in a police officer is the assumption of innocence on the part of the law enforcement officer, and the license to use force that would otherwise not be legal, and to not have to answer for it until later, if ever. I actually saw a police officer asking why people filming didn’t intervene. 🤯 Seriously!? As if he thought people could’ve intervened without being killed themselves, being arrested, and probably convicted of violence against a police officer. If they did what they did to a suspect, what would they do to a civilian trying to pull them off of the suspect? And then the police would have looked justified in what they did to Mr. Floyd.

I didn’t understand it was less about blaming law-enforcement, and more about seeing racism. Until now. Seeing four…not just one… but FOUR police officers kneeling on a handcuffed man’s neck until he stopped breathing for almost 9 entire minutes was my breaking point.

Then two things happened. First, someone posted a video that showed Jane Elliot asking a question that “left a [white] audience speechless.” She asked how many people in a room would trade places with somebody who was black. She asked the question twice, and nobody raised their hand. Then she pointed out that nobody wanted to live life the way black people live their lives because we can see that it isn’t good or right, yet we allow other people to be treated that way. Why!? That is one of the most profound questions I have ever heard. https://youtu.be/YTOierm0P4Y

Then, someone who is responsible for a lot of good in the world posted in a group I belong to, and believe wholeheartedly in, a “listening.” She asked for people of color to say what they wanted to say, and said, “We are listening.” Another friend posted a similar sentiment on her page to simply hold space for people to post what they felt and took it a step further by asking white people to not comment. She asked people to take a look at themselves if that made them uncomfortable, and question why that is.

That was the moment. That’s when I got it. It’s the shutting up. That’s the part I wasn’t getting right. It’s not about a conversation, or a debate, or a winner. Its not about being right or wrong. It’s about acknowledgment. It’s about letting people share their experience and not questioning it. Because it is their experience, and nobody has the right to question someone else’s experience. And they want to be heard. So my job is to shut up and listen. With no agenda, no reply, no opposing viewpoint, no alternate hypotheticals, no rationalizations… Nothing except acknowledging and validating their experience, and being willing to stand up for them and with them UNTIL IT STOPS.

It was never about who was wrong or right.

So there are some things I need to change. Maybe some of them are things you want to think about as well. Maybe you’re shaking your head at me and saying, “Well, it’s about time!” I am sorry. I’m sorry it took me this long. These are only three of the most important things I know I have done wrong, and which I will change.

  • Saying “All lives matter.” I was coming from a place of supporting law enforcement officers who had been killed. Meaning both of the ridiculously sad and unnecessary killings matter. But again, the issue here is racism. That’s why I never understood why my comment was offensive. As I saw someone explain, to say “all lives matter” would mean that black lives are included, which would mean there was no issue to begin with. A better analogy was that it’s like saying that all houses should be sprayed with water because one is on fire, rather than spraying the houses that are on fire. The issue is racism. “Black lives matter” does not mean “ONLY black lives matter.” It means black ones SHOULD matter AS MUCH as all the rest. I get it now.
  • Responding that there are “good police.” We know this. That doesn’t excuse the bad ones! Until bad ones are held accountable as often as they should be, how are people supposed to feel safe around them? Unfortunately, the bad ones make it worse for the good ones. This is why the good ones need to work harder from THEIR positions, to eliminate corruption. Good police mean nothing if they aren’t there when the bad ones kill innocent people, or they don’t feel confident and secure enough to intervene and know they will be supported by their agencies. Responding to a specific injustice by saying “there are good police,” is almost invalidating that the injustice took place. If someone says their parent died, you don’t reply by saying, “Well, not all parents died.” How would that help?!
  • Replying at all. This is an issue for me in general. Feeling like I have to respond to everything. I don’t. Or at least I don’t have to rationalize it. Sometimes I just need to acknowledge that something exists, and just sit with it. Sit with a person who is hurting, and just support them. Even if I have an opinion or a response. When someone is discussing these sensitive issues, they are seeking support and validation. You can’t listen if you’re busy formulating your “response” (argument).

The last of these points was clarified for me in part of another article that discussed “private policing.” I had never even considered this concept prior to reading it last week. The problem is when white people correct, critique, compare, advise, or otherwise take it upon themselves to offer some kind of “instruction” to black people much more often than they do white people. The fact that I didn’t even know this was a thing makes it likely I have done this without knowing, as I do believe much of racism comes in the form of subconscious bias. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/police-violence-black-community-activism-ally_n_5ed01d2ac5b6b6261ab53962

“Private policing.” Are you guilty of this?

One of the issues I am the most passionate about, probably due to being an attorney, is sentencing disparity. Studies repeatedly show that black people are convicted and sentenced at much higher rates than white people for the exact same crimes. I do not think people sit in jury deliberation rooms and decide someone is guilty or not guilty because they are black or white. However, when they are undecided and they decide to just trust their gut, I think most people don’t realize that their gut is biased.

Another friend recently posted a study done by Harvard that I have often referred to as well, which allows people to learn about their own hidden bias. Take the test and find out how you score. Read about hidden bias and then select “race” from the list. (You can also test for hidden bias when it comes to gender, age, sexual orientation, etc. Bias and bigotry comes in all shapes and sizes.) https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html

I am grateful to everyone who has tolerated me for all of the years it has taken me to finally “get it.” I am especially grateful to my black friends who have so graciously excused or understood my behavior and that it wasn’t intentional, but rather a lack of understanding. There is always room for growth and learning. I’m grateful for such an important lesson in life, for learning it in time to help me parent better, and for having time left in my life to make changes and hopefully become a true ally.

I’ll close with the link and lyrics to a song that truly represents the current times, and how critical it is that we stand with each other.

By My Silence © 2008 writen by Ellen Bukstel & Nick Annis

Video: https://youtu.be/yn_Apis4_tc

Lyrics: https://www.reverbnation.com/ellenbukstel/song/2779416-by-my-silence-produced