by Ruben Beltran
COVID-19 has not only brought to the forefront the inequalities in the healthcare system, but it is also a perfect metaphor for another virus that has killed more people than influenza and COVID-19 combined: RACISM-1619.
America, as the body, was officially infected in 1619 with the virus of slavery, but the sickness of racism was already killing the Indigenous Nations before then. And it has, since then, decimated generations of people of color like a virus that kills healthy cells. Demonstrators and activists, acting as America’s immune system, have been trying for centuries to rid the body of RACISM-1619, but the infection persists.
Finding itself with no other option, the immune system then raises the body’s temperature in the hopes of killing the infection. And now, just like in an infected body, demonstrators and activists find themselves raising the temperature again in the hopes that RACISM-1619 finally gets the message that it is not welcome in America’s body anymore.
Would the infection finally be burned out of the system? Not fast enough for my liking.
Meanwhile, White people are questioning and pointing their fingers at protesters, not truly understanding – even though they say they are – and asking, why are they burning their own neighborhood? Do you question the immune system when it raises the temperature and kills its own?
Would you understand if they were burning your White neighborhood instead? Since you are the one that is considered the enemy, would that make more sense to you? How angry would you say someone is who is willing to burn down their own? And how long before they turn their fury directly against you?
White people in general – racist or not – need to start taking responsibility for either contributing or remaining silent when they witness an act of racism. The White race needs to accept that they have lived with the shame and stain of racism for as long as people of color have lived with its consequences and finally decide that enough is enough, because it is among you that the racists live, thrive and hide.
White people are questioning and pointing their fingers at protesters, not truly understanding and asking, why are they burning their own neighborhood? Do you question the immune system when it raises the temperature and kills its own?
Use your White privilege as a weapon for good. You can and should become the most powerful vaccine against RACISM-1619. And now that the body is burning with the fever of justified anger, it is time to start inoculating.
I wish that demonstrators would not burn their own neighborhood, or that those with nothing but criminal intent would stop looting. But just like the immune system is forced to raise the temperature in order to rid the body of the infection – even though it might kill the body in the process – demonstrators are forced to burn their own in order to show RACISM-1619 that we are not going to take it anymore!
One of the places where RACISM-1619 has flourished is in the prison system. As an innocent man in prison for 12 years now, I have witnessed scenes of abuse against people of color that I only saw in prison movies.
I was the victim of one such incident. So, I want to remind everyone in the middle of this righteous uprising, don’t forget the ones that have been forgotten.
And that even though no one is filming, reporting or marching for the murdered brothers and sisters on the inside of America’s prisons for no other reason than the color of their skin, it is still happening.
Frederick Douglass once said: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
So don’t stop the struggle, don’t stop demanding what’s rightfully ours!
Place your knee of righteous anger on the neck of injustice and racism until it can’t breathe no more!
Racism and those that support it are an infection to this country – and like any infection, we will be rid of them by any means necessary!
Send our brother some love and light: Ruben Beltran, 10A-3301, Sullivan CF, P.O. Box 116, Fallsburg, NY 12733.