The once great nation, the United Stated is far from being united as social unrest spreads across the nation and beyond as a result of the killing of African American George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. The incident has highlighted racial inequality and economic bifurcation in the US — and the ways in which they are inexorably linked — which the Covid-19 pandemic had already laid bare.
The protest occurred months after the Covid-19 outbreak where many Americans face remuneration cuts and retrenchment of employment. The tragic situation sparked an unresolved problem, which dates back centuries.
An invisible line runs from the original sin of slavery in the US, to the racial segregation of the Jim Crow south, to the gerrymandering or redrawing of voting maps that has supported the systemic economic oppression of African Americans. The African Americans have been subjected to higher levels of poverty, unemployment and poorer education as opposed to the whites for eons.
The gap did diminish to an extent over the last decade or so, especially with the election of the first African-American President in 2008. Since then the country has attested an increase in employment rates, healthcare facilities and more educational facilities, which schools throughout America now provide.
With the Covid-19 outbreak companies are faced with the difficult decision of determining whether to opt for a retrenchment strategy or not. Despite the catastrophic situation experts note that more African-Americans are faced with financial distress than the whites in the country. The coronavirus crisis has split the workforce into three groups: those who have lost jobs or at least some pay; those who are deemed “essential” workers who must labour on through the crisis (often at great risk to their own health); or those who are virtual knowledge workers whose lives have hardly been affected.
Unfortunately, African-Americans are reported to have fallen disproportionately into the first two groups. Despite facing unprecedented retrenchment since the ‘The Great Depression” they’ve also been called in to face the brunt of the Covid-19 attack, meaning, many of them have been classified as essential workers, depending on their profession of course ,thus subsequently being exposed to the brunt of the pandemic, either through work or through health vulnerabilities as people without access to quality healthcare, nutrition, or good housing are more at risk.
African-Americans have been exposed greatly to peaking infection and death rates. The untimely killing of George Floyd has added further burden to the country’s already existing Covid-19 and mass unemployment problems, which has caused not only a financial crisis but also a grave racial issue.
Not all Americans are impacted by these issues. Some affluent Americans have been seen vacationing in retreat homes. Whether its right call remains a question. Meanwhile, large-scale social dissent in the highest density parts of the country threatens both health outcomes and the reopening of the economy.
The Trump administration has been seen capitalizing on the sense that public law and order is at stake, which has further infuriated citizens. The New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, among a few politicians, have backed the president stating a divisive narrative where he claims random violent protesters are at war with good cops. Americans should not buy it. As Mr Cuomo put it, the tragedy of George Floyd is one of many “chapters in a book. The title of the book is continuing injustice and inequality in America”. The only way to end the Two Americas story will be to acknowledge that race and economic inequality are profoundly connected. Solving the Covid-19 crisis, police violence, unemployment and most other US problems will require connecting the dots between the two — something this president has shown himself incapable of doing.
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