It is what it is.
If we were to organize our priorities to reflect our most important obligations, safeguarding our children’s welfare would necessarily be one of the highest.
Yet, that is not the case in this country.
“Rubbish,” I hear you say. “My children’s well being are my top priority.”
Well, I am talking about all children, an important distinction because it determines the level of self-sacrifice we are willing to make in ensuring that not just your own but all children get an equal chance of surviving this pandemic.
And the fact is some children’s lives are less valuable than others.
If this were not so, we would not allow SWAT teams to terrorize some children’s neighborhoods, break down the doors behind which they sleep, frighten them from their dreams with flash-bang grenades and sometimes erase their lives with “unintentional” gunshots.
We would not allow the government to snatch some children from their parents, lock them in cages and private detention centers, and abuse them physically and emotionally.
We would not allow our schools to criminalize so many, to deny them an adequate education and to strip them of their history.
We would not allow so many to die prematurely from poverty and all its manifestations, hunger, homelessness, lack of health care, etc.
And so, while I understand the angst over the reopening schools amid a pandemic we are yet to control, I feel conflicted.
I cannot deny the science of the pandemic. There is real danger in conducting in-school learning while it still rages.
Yet, many families do not have the resources to provide quality education in their crowded apartments or their restrictive shelters.
Yet, few want to make the necessary sacrifices to best prevent the diminution of these children academic prospects by the pandemic
If we were to follow the science in fighting this pandemic, for example, we would be pouring our limited resources in areas where it would be most effective—in black and nonwhite communities, which have been disproportionately devastated by the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while Black people comprise 12.3% of the population, they make up 22.3% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.
Overall, according to the CDC, non-white populations have died at “disproportionately higher rates than white populations in nearly every state,” due to long-standing “racial differences in wealth, poverty, employment, housing, health status and access to health care.”
Here are some of the implications for these racial differences, according to the CDC.
- People from some racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic whites.
- People from some racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately represented in essential work settings such as health care facilities, farms, factories, grocery stores and public transportation.
- People with limited job options likely have less flexibility to leave jobs that may put them at a higher risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- People in these situations often cannot afford to miss work, even if they are sick, because they do not have enough money saved up for essential items like food and other important living needs.
- Some people from racial and ethnic minority groups live in crowded conditions that make it more challenging to follow prevention strategies.
- In addition, growing and disproportionate unemployment rates for some racial and ethnic minority groups during the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to greater risk of eviction and homelessness or sharing of housing.
In other words, remote learning might be best for teachers and some students, but not necessarily for all children.
We know this, but we are willing, it seems and as we have done for hundred of years, to live with a choice that portends dire consequences for some children.
Do not hate me for drawing this conclusion.
It is what it is.