Dear United States of America,
Let’s skip the “in the wake of COVID-19” line and cut right to the chase, shall we?
Women of color – Black, Brown, Indigenous and AAPI women – are bailing you out of a crisis you brought onto yourself.
I’m not talking only about the overwhelming women of color workforces in direct healthcare, domestic work, and childcare. (But if it’s not already clear, let’s establish for the record that women of color are the ones taking care of children, the sick, the elderly, and the disabled during this global pandemic. We are, and have been, the frontline workers whose labor makes all other work possible.)
I mean the way that women of color in every field and at every income level keep showing up as the de facto leaders in our families, neighborhoods, and communities. We are acting day and night to reduce the harm that this pandemic stands to cause–all while we continue to take care of our own. We are mothering, and working, and organizing, and planning, and healing, and nurturing our loved ones...all at the same time.
One might guess, in recognition of how much of ourselves we are giving to this moment and have given over time, that women of color enjoy high status and extraordinary health in this country. One would guess wrong. We’re not even close.
Every crisis that passes chips away at our physical, emotional, and physical health – and we aren’t starting off at optimal levels, to begin with. How can we reach optimal levels of health if we’re never off duty?
Our lives have been pandemonium since the day your settlers first arrived on our lands. This pandemic is not “unprecedented.” Women of color have been on the frontlines nursing our communities through genocide, war, economic depression, violence, and the chronic ineptitude of 45 federal administrations.
If that isn’t evidence enough of our value, we don’t know what to tell you.
We do know that we love our people. Deeply. Fiercely. To the ends of the earth.
And, “the end of the world” is a familiar place for us.
Too familiar, in fact. This way of living, that sacrifices some for the sake of others, is not sustainable.
Women of color are not an expendable resource.
So we’ll bail you out this time. But what happens next time is anyone’s guess.
Ana del Rocío is the Executive Director of Color PAC, a former school board official, and a contributor to The Brown Girls Guide to Politics.
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1 "direct healthcare" https://phinational.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Racial-and-Gender-Disparities-in-DCW-PHI-2017.pdf
2 "domestic work" https://www.teenvogue.com/story/domestic-workers-are-women-who-demand-more-respect
3 "childcare" https://cscce.berkeley.edu/files/2018/06/2-About-the-Workforce.pdf
4 "showing up" Not literally, of course, because, stay the f*ck home
5 "optimal levels" https://www.nhpr.org/post/when-why-women-people-color-face-lower-quality-healthcare-worse-health-outcomes#stream/0