We Shouldn't Have to Figure Out How to Survive Coronavirus on Our Own

Mar 13, 2020 12:00:00 AM

by Tanesha Peeples

Reason number 2.8 million as to why I love my Black people—we have a sense of humor about everything.

For example, the Black Delegation passed a motion to rename the Covid-19 Virus “The Rona” or “Dat Rona.” 

We’ve already found a cure to the virus in something that generations of Black people have considered a household remedy to all medical emergencies—ginger ale. If you check out this thread on Twitter, it’s full of people talking about how they’re using different brands of ginger ale to fight the virus. And with the emergence of Canada Dry Bold, we’re feeling invincible.

Then, jokes about how many quarantine babies are going to surface in nine months have kept some of us in stitches. 

Well, not me because that means we’ll have a bunch of extra Capricorns running amuck and I’m not a huge fan of that zodiac sign. Sorry, Capricorns.

Bottom line, we’ve pretty much had to laugh to keep from panicking—and crying. Because we’re always stuck in the middle of some political and racist B.S.

Prime example: The stock market is crashing and the stability of our economy is at stake. As a response, the Federal Reserve plans to dump over a trillion dollars into a Wall Street bailout to keep markets afloat. 

But at the same time, school districts are shutting down all over the country due to fear of the virus spreading. So where’s the education bailout? Where’s the bailout for poor and working-class communities of color?

I’ll tell you—held up on Capitol Hill.

During his address on Wednesday night, President Trump basically said we need to forget political feuds and help the people of America.

But as we speak, Republicans and Democrats are arguing over language in the Families First Bill—which passed in the House and is now awaiting a Senate vote—that would provide free coronavirus testing, paid emergency leave and other benefits for workers without insurance and strengthen food security programs for students and seniors.  

And while all of this is going on, state leaders and families are having to figure out how to survive “The Rona” on their own. 

The New York Times published a piece about how closing schools in New York is the absolute last resort because they’re the only places where almost a million of their students—who are either poor or homeless—get to eat, wash their clothes and receive medical care. 

But at the same time, how do you protect those hundreds of thousands of young people from getting sick? City leaders are literally stuck between a rock and a hard place.

My homie Ray Ankrum delivered a message on Twitter for people to think about creating contingency plans for students whose only meals come from their school.  

Christine Pelosi pushed that same message and urgency in her tweet.

One of my Facebook friends posted that her daughter’s elementary school was closing and classes would be taken online until further notice. Well, that’s all well and good if you have access to the internet at home—but what about those families who don’t? Those kids will absolutely miss out on instruction.

Luckily, state and local leaders are on the ball. My city’s mayor—Lori Lightfoot—announced that, at her request, Comcast is offering 60 days of free internet services to all low-income households, nationally.

Universities around the country are closing dorms left and right, giving students very little notice or time to make other arrangements—especially those who may not have anywhere else to go

Harvard University student Rosa Vasquez expressed concern about the loss of stability due to the displacement caused by the virus and lack of planning.

Since that tweet, people have run to Rosa’s side offering her assistance and there’s now a GoFundMe for first-generation, low-income students at Harvard.

Low-income families are in a panic trying to figure out how they can keep their jobs in the event of being infected and while their kids are home from school.

It’s madness and it shouldn’t have had to come to this! Given the rapid spread of the virus in Asia and Europe, it was only a matter of time before it would reach the United States. The federal government should have been prepared to take preventative measures to contain the virus as much as possible through testing, quarantining potentially infected people and overall, they should have had a plan in the event of the virus spreading.

But, here we are—and despite cracking a few jokes here and there, this pandemic isn’t funny, nor is it a game. [pullquote]The plan for real action shouldn’t solely be on civilians, educators, or state leaders to create emergency strategies for how to feed, educate, house and prevent a virus from spreading in our schools and communities.[/pullquote] The federal government needs to put their bickering and politics aside and, for once in their existence, protect all Americans.

Tanesha Peeples

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or ZIP code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. And that's what she works towards every day.

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