No, We are Not in this Together, But We Need to Be

No, We are Not in this Together, But We Need to Be

The mass protests in Alameda and in cities across the nation in the wake of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis has made one thing crystal clear in this time of pandemic: contrary to the universal mantra “we’re all in this together,” we are actually not “all in this together.” 

One need looks only as far as Sunday’s Zoom Town Hall on police violence, bombed by the vilest of what Vice Mayor John Knox White termed “inhuman” language.

There are two separate Americas enduring this pandemic, and they are suffering separate fates. More than 112,000 Americans and counting have now died of COVID-19, and a higher percent of them are Black or people of color.

Black and brown Americans constitute a disproportionate number of the millions who are now unemployed. They are the majority now facing eviction because they cannot pay their rent. They are the majority lining up for miles at the food banks. They are the ones unnecessarily pulled over then dying at the hands of lawless police officers with a frequency undiminished.

The pandemic has ripped the veil from Alameda’s vastly unequal economy. It has not only revealed the vast rift between the rich and comfortable vs. the poor and near-poor who always struggle from weekly paycheck to paycheck; the pandemic has actually widened that rift as demonstrated in the brazen crash of the Town Hall. And that is why there has been seething anger erupting through the thin veneer of calm this city manages to maintain.

We live in two separate and unequal Americas. The comfortable and mostly White America, and the other America, the struggling and drowning America, mostly comprised of people of color. It is that other America that is protesting, asking if we White folk are really in it together for the fight ahead. Black people are weary of fighting and grieving; exhausted from the centuries-old and generations-long struggle to have Whites get off them so they can simply “do and be what they can be.”

When the demonstrations are over, when the headlines change, when you’re routine is re-established; or when the wind blows stiff against you, as we witnessed in the Town Hall, will you still take up the baton and help get it across the finish line?

Gabrielle “Gaby” Dolphin is the former president of the City of Alameda Democratic Club.