When the news first broke that the President of the United States tested positive for COVID-19, my gut reaction, like many people, was “Karma much?” People told me I should control my emotions, but at the peak of the pandemic, when hospital beds in New York City were scarce, I had COVID-19. And I’ve lost too many people to its clutches to even count. So I didn’t pray for the president when we learned he was being transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment. Instead I was furious. Not just out of spite, but because his reckless policies have already killed more than 200,000 people and the events that led to his diagnosis put thousands of innocent workers at risk. It was his administration that held what is now being referred to as a “super-spreader event” in Washington, D.C. Later in the week he interacted with his staff on Air Force One, caterers at a fundraiser, and Secret Service officers on a joy-ride, all without concern for their health.
The irony that Trump—who arguably courted the virus by flouting all public health recommendations—got top-notch care while the rest of America was forced to hang on by a thread financially over the past six months should not be lost on anyone.
Early on in the pandemic, by the time I had already had a fever for more than 20 days, I became obsessed with knowing who the people lying in intensive care units across New York City were. Corona, Queens, a neighborhood with the highest concentration of foreign born residents, quickly became one of the city’s hotspots.
In May, I spoke to Dr. Susan Cohen at Manhattan’s Bellevue Hospital. She took me into the ICU while we were on the phone and told me that many of the patients who were there fighting for their lives and their last breaths were Latino men. Men you usually see working on construction sites or in the back of a grocery store, washing the dishes at a restaurant or delivering food to our doors. They were people who had been healthy two or three days before they ended up in the ICU. As the New York Times revealed, the coronavirus kills Latinos and Latinas in NYC at twice the rate it kills white people.
What I came to realize was that many of these people, “essential workers” who never stopped working when the pandemic hit, were also the family members of my students I teach at Barnard College. These first-generation Latino and Latina college students are some of the highest performing in the country. Yet their family members were the people who continued going to work every day so that New York City could feed its residents. They were the ones working in the delis and bodegas and the pizza shops that remained open. They were the ones riding their bicycles and ebikes up and down the avenues delivering our food.
The still-contagious president is discharged early so that he can pose for a photo-op in front of the White House while American taxpayers pick up the tab for his hospital bill.
They were also the ones who were first to lose their jobs as Wall Street and Midtown shut down. A report in June stated that more than half of NYC’s immigrants were out of work. Of the approximately 10.5 million undocumented immigrants nationwide, an estimated 5 million are doing jobs regarded as essential. That means immigrants are disproportionately affected by both the health and economic crises, yet at the same time, they are excluded from the stimulus package and other recovery efforts. And with Trump flip-flopping on whether to negotiate another stimulus bill until after the election, the next few months will be a precarious time for Americans struggling to pay rent, put food on the table, and keep their families safe.
We broadcasted the story of Lili Ruiz , my teaching assistant, on Latino USA so the entire country could hear how COVID-19 took three members of her family. Her close-knit family, indigenous people from a small Zapotec town in Oaxaca, Mexico, moved to Chicago where they could make a good living and raise their families. Then the virus took three of them. Maybe you can imagine my rage at the fact that they didn’t get access to any of the top-shelf drugs like Dexamethasone, remdesivir, and Regeneron that this man is receiving and that may ultimately help him survive. The people I know didn’t get that chance. Their loved ones weren’t even allowed to be in the same room with them to say goodbye. But the still-contagious president is discharged early so that he can pose for a photo-op in front of the White House while American taxpayers pick up the tab for his hospital bill.
The American people have been asked to make sacrifices large and small, again and again, whether it’s cancelling graduations, postponing weddings, or delaying in-person reunions with family and friends. We’ve taken precautions to protect the people we love, but all of that work is invalidated in an instant by one man’s thoughtless words and actions.
We have witnessed what it’s like to be led by an unfeeling, cold, narcissistic bully for a president. And although the last thing we want to do is become an unfeeling bully like him, let me remind you that it was also he who locked up innocent children in cages. It was he who did not condemn white supremacists but instead told them to stand by. It was he who claimed we didn’t need to wear masks, that the virus would disappear “like a miracle,” and even now as he battles the virus himself, his recklessness puts those around him at risk while the death toll marches towards 300,000.
Source: Read Full Article