As of April 2020, we can all recognize that Michigan is in a state of turmoil. Theprotest against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home decision in East Lansing, Mich. demonstrated the political unrest of some Michigan citizens. COVID-19 has left our campus a ghost town. The fulfilling sense of community we once enjoyed dissipated beginning in mid-March.
The impact of COVID-19 exemplifies how the existing health system in the United States discriminates against marginalized groups.Data supports that in larger cities, such populations are contracting coronavirus and dying at a disproportionately high rate.
The muezzin’s call rang out over the masjid speakers, reciting the Islamic kalima, or statement of faith, and my mother grabbed my hand as we separated from my father and brother to answer the call to prayer. It was one of the occasional times my family went to our mosque in Miami, but at age eight, I was already aware that we were walking to the women’s section behind the men’s, separated by a row of dividers across the middle of a large prayer room. The unpatterned wall of beige dividers towered over me when I was a child, but as time went on, they never really felt smaller.
The economic fallout created by COVID-19 is already enormous. With an expected long recession to follow once relative normalcy resumes, many renters either already have or will lose their source of income. As a result, calls for rent strikes and collective action to pressure landlords into waiving rent fees are spreading.
Being able to witness a pandemic like COVID-19 in our lifetime has been both a dream and a nightmare for me. For many public health students, a real-life pandemic is everything our education has been building toward. In every class, we are reminded of our predecessors who created the polio vaccine and eradicated the source of cholera way back when. We are constantly empowered to work for communities that are the most vulnerable and under-served. We aim to uplift the voices of those that may be hidden by systematic oppression.
With the current COVID-19 public health crisis, it’s become particularly clear that the pandemic reaches beyond being just a highly contagious, viral disease or issue of community spread. The coronavirus pandemic effectively stratified the population into its different social identities and personalities based on the impact on specific communities. While the United States may be a melting pot, the virus has made evident these pre-existing divisions within a community.
Jesus Christ. I think most of us can agree we didn’t see anything on this scale coming. It hasn’t been more than a couple weeks since the University of Michigan decided to suspend in-person classes, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently decided to join several other states and shut down nonessential services.
Editor’s Note: The author of this op-ed has been kept anonymous due to their fear of retaliation.
“Stay safe.” It’s a phrase that’s becoming all too familiar in the days of COVID-19. My husband says it to me as he hugs me before I leave for work. I read it in texts from friends and family who I haven’t seen in weeks. The grocery store clerk utters it through a plexiglass barrier in the checkout line. These two words are a ubiquitous mantra the whole world is crying out in desperation.