The Pandemic Has Exposed America’s Most Dangerous Virus

In other words, we are saying that people of color matter less (racism), the poor and working-class matter less (classism), the elderly matter less (ageism), and those with a preexisting health condition matter less (ableism) than our philosophy about the role of the state, even in moments of crisis.

Think about that. It’s not merely that we value some lives less than others, it’s that we value some lives less than an idea, less than our politics.

It’s a matter of saying that one is so committed to not having government help people, that they are willing to let lots of people die, just to avoid setting a precedent that might increase support for, God forbid, universal health care or better nutrition assistance.

Rather than moving slowly and paying people to get through the crisis using government funds — like Denmark is doing — we act as if the only choice is, as the saying goes, “your money or your life.” The fact that there is another choice, but we refuse to consider it, tells us a lot about America’s values — none of it good.

What it tells us is something black and brown folks always knew, even as most white Americans have denied it: namely, that we are a country divided not merely between the haves and have-nots, but between those deemed worthy of life itself and those deserving of death.

It has always been this way. And it always will be, until and unless we say enough.

I’m an antiracism educator/author. I Facebook & tweet @timjacobwise, podcast at Speak Out With Tim Wise & post bonus content at