Quote of the Week
“For every life that we couldn’t save, we are called to honor that life. And the only way we honor that life is to continue fighting even when it seems like everything is lost.” —Carmen Yulín Cruz, mayor of San Juan, PR, on what we can learn about ourselves and each other right now. >> TWEET THIS
CELEBRATING PRIDE IN A PANDEMIC
As June approaches, many LGBTQ+ people are mourning the loss of now-cancelled Pride parades. Dr. Samantha Allen, author of Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States, echoes this disappointment but suggests an alternative: “…pause, ask ourselves what Pride means and reimagine what it could be in the future.” Given the increasing tension around the presence of corporations at Pride, Allen points out that “the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled in-person Pride events…at a time when I think we could afford to start looking at Pride differently anyway.”
Instead of being passively present at an in-person event, people can “expressly seek out and lift up the LGBTQ causes, performers and businesses that matter to [them].” Using her experience of commissioning an LGBTQ+ artist as an example, Allen suggests a few social distancing-friendly ways of celebrating Pride. Her suggestions include ordering takeout from LGBTQ+ bars and restaurants, supporting online drag shows, and buying LGBTQ+ books from indie bookstores.
We think Allen’s reframing of Pride Month is both lovely and impactful. In a time when people are baking bread, writing letters, and holding virtual proms and Seders, it only makes sense to extend this spirit of connectedness to Pride. As Allen writes, “I hope semi-isolation reminds us that Pride Month is about the resilience, creativity and beauty of the LGBTQ community — and that the temporary absence of large, corporate-sponsored and often-inaccessible mass gatherings cannot suppress that underlying strength.”
How It Affects You
According to Allen, “It feels good…to handpick a few things that bring you queer joy and then double down on them.” Consider her many suggestions for celebrating Pride in the absence of in-person gatherings this year. Which actions might bring you and the people you love queer joy?
KIMBERLÉ CRENSHAW ON COVID-19
Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw is known for coining the term “intersectionality.” She is also the Executive Director of the African American Policy Forum. As primarily white people protest lockdowns while COVID-19 is disproportionately lethal for African Americans, she writes that we must acknowledge a few important points.
1) Despite what recent patterns of victim-shaming imply, the disproportionate impact on African Americans is a result of racism and healthcare disparities.
2) Reopening the economy pushes “more Black health and service workers directly in the path of the pandemic.”
3) Sacrificing the lives of a historically racialized group falls “squarely within the territory of genocide.”
Professor Crenshaw points out that African Americans are largely shamed for the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on their communities. She cites a white shopper who commented, “When you start seeing where the cases are coming from and the demographics—I’m not worried.” You may have heard similar comments from people in your life—generalizations about who is and isn’t wearing a mask, misunderstandings about those who don’t have a choice but to work, etc.
When we don’t learn about racism’s legacy, we can’t see the links between that legacy and present-day health outcomes. We end up shaming—and blaming—the victims of that legacy, barring from us from taking effective, informed action.
How It Affects You
As your institution or organization navigates re-opening or loosening restrictions during the pandemic, consider how your policies impact different identity groups. Keep Professor Crenshaw’s words in mind: “This involuntary sacrifice of a predictably vulnerable population…has to be squarely confronted for what it is: One more chapter in the annals of American racial power, in which the bodies of some are sacrificed en masse for the privilege and convenience of others.”
WHEN SCHOOLS REOPEN
Early childhood educator Erika Christakis describes how the pandemic has revealed pre-existing inequities in education. However, the pandemic also offers educators and policymakers a chance to “consider anew which practices genuinely help students learn and which do not.” Some students are doing better during quarantine than they were in school.
They’re experiencing less stress and anxiety caused by “inadequate sleep, over-programmed schedules with little downtime, and the pressures of standardized tests.” At the same time, each group faces their own unique losses during quarantine. For example, younger students need in-person interaction to learn, and students with disabilities need access to specialized in-person services.
We like that Christakis frames the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to reflect on whether schools are serving all students equitably. Her points can also be applied to work and university settings. Who is struggling the most during quarantine, and who’s actually doing better than they were before? As states start to re-open, we can use what we’ve learned to shape our “new normal” for the better.
How It Affects You
Christakis suggests that when schools reopen, they give priority to younger students and students with disabilities. Schools should also be prepared to offer parents flexible scheduling. In general, school administrators should keep in mind that “the pre-Coronavirus status quo didn’t serve every student well,” and now is the time to change that.