Divided We Fall. United We Stand.

By Francisco Pinto, PSF Scholar 

My condolences go out to the George Floyd family. One of his brothers spoke days before the eulogy, and as a brother in Christ my prayers go out to him and his family. I also appreciate the Black Lives Matter movement which proudly represents Black Americans. May God also be with you.

Our nation is in a historical crisis, with numerous movements arising simultaneously, some good and some bad (BLM vs. ANTIFA and White Nationalism). Remaining focused on the positive, beneficial movements is rightfully challenging. Distractions abound!

A movement is in place today that is not being demonstrated with protests in the streets, but through first-response EMT’s and hospitals where medical teams are treating the infected, organizations that are donating food to families in need, and those that are following guidelines to protect highly sensitive Americans from COVID-19. These Americans are fighting in honor of those Americans who have died, are dying, and continue to see COVID-19 as a threat to their lives.

Thousands of Americans have passed away due to this pandemic. Their names and lives matter to the American people. Some died alone, while others, as they died, were unable to be touched by their loved ones to say their final goodbyes. What are the stories of these Americans? Are their loved ones willing to speak up on a platform like George Floyd’s brother did?

Our country has been isolated from one another for some time due to the COVID-19 quarantine. During this time many of the most financially-vulnerable groups (low income individuals) have lost their jobs at worst and had their income impacted negatively at best. Millions of people are facing these issues without knowing when or if they will ever recover, much less their ability to provide for primary needs (housing, food, work). How can we or the government (or both) provide meaningful assistance to those adversely affected?

In the midst of this crippling pandemic surfaces a highly volatile video of George Floyd being restrained by police. For many American minorities like myself, this has been a reoccurring fact of life for decades if not centuries. Coupled with quarantine isolation issues, you have a pressure pot cooking emotions. The protests turned violent because most Americans have their own experience with police being overzealous or knowing someone who has been treated poorly by police.

The White House Administration, who’s platform has been built on being divisive or combative only adds flame to the fire. This divisiveness often leaves a large amount of Americans who feel like their only recourse is to protest or even riot. The Justice System was also slow to charge the police officers, something that is completely opposite to “normal” prosecutions of civilians.

The American people are waiting for someone to speak up that has credibility, whom they can follow. I’ve heard some say, “We should return to the way things were. All of this quarantine, facemasks and social distancing is something made up by the American government.” When I watch the news, especially during the daily protests nationwide, there are many in the community who aren’t wearing facemasks or practicing social distancing.

Why do Americans fail to heed expert recommendations? We look to our “leaders” for guidance a way through the tunnel to the light so to speak. If the medical experts of this nation who are working with other experts across the world are creating these procedures why are we not listening? Are the American experts fools, as well as the experts of other nations working closely with them?

The Governor of California is doing exactly what America needs in leadership. He spoke with the people of California, and brought them water before the protest turned sour. What no one spoke of, but most leaders know, is that there were civilians in the crowd that listened to the California Governor. Those Californian’s stories need to be told so others are confused of where American leadership stands and find credibility within our nation.

COVID-19 might not affect you, but it might affect someone close to you or others in your community. Today your loved ones who are over the age of 65 are facing these hard times with you. If your loved ones or someone you know (or someone they know) have underlying illnesses be cognizant that they are fighting the consequences of this pandemic with you as well.

When we put on our face masks and practice social distancing we increase the chances of those we care about, who are sensitive to COVID-19, to have a fighting chance at living through this pandemic. It is our responsibility to help them make it to the monumental moments of our future. In essence, we should be unselfish for the greater good.

Historically, as a nation we have had our fair share of “bad” and “good” truths. A “bad” truth that happened at the beginning of the 20th century was when the Ford Company didn’t want to cooperate with the Union. During the protests at the Ford factory workers protesting were killed by Ford-employed security. A “good” truth is that around the same time in our history General Motors decided to cooperate with the Union and so lead to the development of a contract with the American government to create the first highway system which we use today. Another “bad” truth is that the White Supremacist movement used a violent approach during the 60’s that cost the lives of a lot of Black Americans. A “good” truth is that during that time in our nation’s history Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent Civil Rights movement changed America for the better, increasing future opportunities for many Black Americans. Today the “bad” truths of America dominate the news and social media. But when George Floyd’s brother spoke he used a different approach. He spoke of the “good” truths that have helped us advance as a country: education, God, and the vote to change our nation.

Within the last hundred years Americans who are categorized today as being vulnerable to COVID-19 were there when we were coming out of the Depression and were fighting to survive the pandemic of that era. These Americans worked for General Motors, helped build our first highway, and were possibly a part of the White House Administration that helped us get out of the Depression. This demographic mattered then and they matter today.

Black Americans who are categorized today as being vulnerable to COVID-19 marched during the Civil Rights movement. When he had his dream Martin Luther King Jr held these Black Americans in mind. This demographic mattered then and they matter today.

Americans who are categorized today as being vulnerable to COVID-19 were amongst the fallen on 911. President Bush and President Obama had them and all Americans in mind when they fought the war against terrorism. This demographic mattered then and they still matter today.

In the midst of the chaos that is now plaguing our nation let’s remember and honor the thousands of Americans that have died from COVID-19! In the midst of World War ll, overcoming a pandemic and the Depression, General Motors remembered these Americans. In the midst of massive US division during the 1960’s: the Vietnam war, urban wars, assassinations and more, Martin Luther King Jr remembered these Americans. During the war against terrorism President Bush and Presedent Obama remembered these Americans.

A “good” truth (a wisdom) was left behind from those who came before us: to never forget the fallen and the vulnerable of this nation. So I call on you to remember… I call on the nation’s heroes to honor those Americans who are gone, and take action for those still breathing, vulnerable to COVID-19. We have to be the superheros of America once again and fight against an enemy that touches not just America, but the world overall.

Proverbs 30: 8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Today I speak up and put on my surgical mask in memory of the American lives that have been lost to this virus!

If you’ve lost someone to this pandemic, I want you to know that your loved ones are remembered! If you’re vulnerable to this pandemic, I want you to know you have not been forgotten!…

… To the vulnerable of American. We remember you!