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December 5, 2020

Competing realities

Opinion

December 5, 2020

Long before Donald Trump, racial capitalism had doomed North America’s attempt to meet the challenge of the Covid pandemic. Yet in the middle of the pandemic when Black Lives Matter protests broke out, it seemed reasonable to demand the impossible – an end to profit-driven white supremacy. These two pivotal events graphically reveal our competing realities.

Why did advanced capitalist countries, after fair warnings from a history of earlier pandemics, respond to this time around first with denial, followed by ignorance and panic, resulting in chaos, fragmentation, and now a deadly second surges in cases?

I became angry with the “We are all in this together” hype when I looked around the ICUs in my major high-tech Washington, DC hospital. I am proud to work with staff truly fighting for our patients’ lives. But in gentrified Washington, now a majority White city, just about every Covid patient was Latino or Black. My union battles management for more single-use N95 masks that we are forced to reuse for days, because there is no national plan to provide personal protective equipment.

Why don’t media images illustrating super-spreader events show immigrant Latino and Caribbean farmworkers, Somalis working in slaughterhouses, Haitians staffing nursing homes, or the hundreds of thousands of poor people stuffed in prisons?

Moreover, why is the West denying the successful strategies and logistics by African and South-East Asian countries who still have dramatically limited pandemic transmission, illness and death while we experience a deadly second and third surge?

The Covid crisis is an opportunity to undo White supremacy. Understand that our focus on Sweden’s experiment instead of studying Africa’s proven strategies to manage the Covid pandemic is how White supremacy deploys information. We need to discard the assumptions of our white civilizational heritage delivers the gold standard. We ought to recognize capitalist and imperial intent that lurks behind the glorification of White heritage and accomplishments.

If we look at African and the SE Asian countries, we see national mobilizations guided by prepared plans and a willingness to act – together.

What can Palestine teach us? Palestine limited Covid death rates to half of Israel’s and Canada’s, and 1/5th of the US – despite Israel’s active sabotage of their health care services and killing of their health care workers.

Excerpted: ‘How Racist Capitalism Fuels COVID’

Counterpunch.org