We Can’t Go Back to Normal

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on we are hearing a lot of talk about when things will “go back to normal.” Some say it will be a few weeks; some say a few months; some say it will be deep into 2021. We know, though, that if we stand together we can use this time to do much better than that.

As WISDOM, we do not want things to go back to the way they were. This health crisis has exposed some ugly truths that were there long before the virus. COVID-19 has revealed the massive racial and economic disparities that many seemed not to have noticed before. The pandemic made it apparent that we already had politicians who are so partisan as to prioritize electoral advantage over the health and lives of their fellow citizens. We had way too many people in our prisons long before the current crisis, and prison was already an inappropriate, unhealthy place for very many of them.

People who are shocked by the disproportionate damage COVID-19 has done in low-income communities and among people of color think now is the time to ask, “why?” We know why. And, we have known it for a long time. Now is the time to act.

Now is the time to move forward with “reparations” — to take steps to remedy the systematic exclusion and oppression of African-American people. It is the time to give a pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented workers who have been deemed “essential” and have been asked to risk their health to keep our country going. As we recognize our dependence on delivery workers, grocery store workers, nursing home workers, janitors, and so many other low-wage workers, we need to see that it is time to pay every worker a living wage of at least $15/hour. Now is the time to restore our democracy and guarantee once and for all that every citizen have the right to vote in every election without undue burdens or dangers. Now is the time to act boldly and to permanently cut our prison population, at least by half.
As the pandemic wanes, which it inevitably will, please do not celebrate a return to “normal.” This is the time for people of faith and good will to stand together to demand and to build a new normal, one that builds on the compassion we have also seen revealed by so many in these days. We need to step up in this historic moment to demand a state and a nation that truly values the lives of all its people.

Rev. Willie Brisco, WISDOM President

Last edited by courtney.   Page last modified on April 22, 2020

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