By Robert Gilbert Jr.
Rev. George C. Gilbert, Jr. is the Assistant to the Pastor and Director of the Music Ministry at Holy Trinity United Baptist Church in Northeast, D.C. and a member of the Social Justice Commission part of the Progressive National Baptist Convention.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has provided America with concrete data of the impact of Racism on America in 2020. This virus has shown the whole world America’s irresponsibility to her most vulnerable constituents. It is because of this neglect that thousands of Black and Brown lives will be terminated. This pandemic has been put under a microscope that points to structural racism, systematic oppression, the lack of a priority to minorities and disconnection to our youth and young adults. With the disproportionate number of deaths of African Americans, we say that our people deserve to live!
As we know, viruses can’t be racist, however policies can be. The Federal, state, and local governments have not prepared minority communities for disasters. This country was built by the backs and blood of Blacks and we deserve proper care and commitment for our communities. When we look at the systemic and structural issues such as mass incarceration, food deserts, a failed healthcare system, unemployment and a failed educational system- how are our disadvantaged communities prepared to survive?
We have seen upward peaks of up to 70 percent of African American coronavirus cases in metropolises across America. This is a snapshot of America’s disproportion of needed resources prior to and during this pandemic. During this virus, the African American community is faced with the need for testing sites, access to tests (without a physician’s approval), protections in place for utility usages, rent and mortgage relief/delay options, access to computers and internet for our students and a food and medicine relief plan. If we do not act swiftly, things will get worst.
Although we are thankful for the stimulus check that many will benefit from, what the disenfranchised communities need is a neighborhood stimulus package that will serve to revitalize economics, healthcare, education, art and culture. We need an investment to the people, who have experienced through generations, the lack of commitment to our most at-risk communities. Now is the time that that we demand our local, state and federal government to distribute resources in an effort to balance this tilted society caused by institutional and systemic racism. Now is the time that minorities become a priority to this United States of America. Now is the time, that we demand resources for the survival and sustainability of our race and culture. Now is the time that we demand policies that will positively impact Black and Brown people who have been an afterthought in the worship of Whiteness in America.
Finally, what we demand is what the oppressed has always demanded – Justice! During this time of Coronavirus and time to come, we demand Justice for the least, the lost and the left out. Amos 5:24 says it best, “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” And like Amos, we will not be quieted, but we will continue to cry aloud, with God on our side. We have faith that a better day is soon coming. And we say, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that we will be delivered.
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