COVID-19 has exposed that our government has resources to do what it wants — and for who it wants. I’m sharing a few stories of people living in extreme poverty & unsightly conditions — even in today’s wealthy America. Politicians know these stories and have witnessed injustices, first-hand. So, where were these trillions of dollars, which now grow from legislative trees, BC (before Covid)? How much of these dollars make their way to communities that have been facing health & environmental hazards, which make these Americans even more susceptible to #Covid19? The president, U.S. Surgeon General & other leaders recite the health inequities, but go silent about the pre-existing economic and environmental conditions that create them. They are preventable when resources are provided. When there’s a will, federal agencies will make a way.

I suspect those fighting to go back to work in a pandemic have no clue about what real poverty looks like. They are not living in conditions that are told, below. Comparatively, they have days of challenge compared to years of conditions, shared below. when they go to capitol buildings, are they thinking about these others, too? This, too, is America, right?

Before, #Covid19, First Nations people have been disrespected & neglected for centuries. How can a country’s leaders brag about a booming economy — with kudos coming from faith leaders — when millions of people are living without basic services across this country?

— Hopi Nation

— Alabama Black Belt

— Navajo Nation

— Appalachia

— And the World

Senators Booker & Sanders can share these U.S. stories with Senate colleagues. The representatives from Alabama and Mississippi should already know, yet, what has changed? Besides creating crafty voter suppression strategies, what have elected officials done about myriad injustices, including environmental racism?

— Lowndes County, Alabama

— Uniontown, Alabama

— More on Uniontown

Who decided this level of poverty, like what’s common in places like Mississippi, was OK? Quitman County & Marks, MS was suffering long before we started talking about COVID-19 . And, what we know to be all to true is that racism is at the roots. So, when you add a pandemic to the mix, injustice is multiplied.

Those protesters who are demanding states reopen aren’t suffering at the level of the communities, which have been suffering far worse, for a very long time. The Poor Peoples Campaign, re-activated by Rev. William Barber, was built to rally support for the millions of poor people who have lacked resources long before the pandemic. This poverty is deep. A compassionate nation would pay attention to those American lives suffering before COVID19 started its global killing trek. There should be a concerted effort by our employees in government to address all of this inequity. When businesses re-open, this battle against poverty won’t be over.

Before COVID19, Feeding America estimated there were 37,000,000 people without adequate food in America. These multi-trillion dollar federal bandaids weren’t packaged to help those hurting before Covid19. Why has that been our “Normal”. And, why would that be what we want to return to?

We know the country can bail out banks and restaurants and massage parlors, but, what about the least of us? Actually, the Trump administration was planning to cut funds for the least of us, not expand them.

Economists have been saying for some time that many U.S. households were a paycheck or two away from being in financial crisis — who listened with a proactive, responsive ear? Then ‘Rona struck and shops and cities and services started to shut down — reluctantly. ‘Rona wasn’t a localized, natural disaster, but, a national crisis, unlike any in the past 100 years. Those in the federal offices, who were tasked to plan for possible scenarios, like this, were disbanded. Our federal government spends billions of our tax dollars, annually, to be prepared for possible attacks from foreign aggressors. But, a federal team, created because of past invisible enemies (SARS; Ebola; Bird Flu; etc.) wasn’t deemed important budget line item. Crises are when leaders demonstrate their mettle or fail. We clearly see the consequences of what failed leadership looks liked — and the world sees it, too. And, while there is nothing new under the sun, America doesn’t seem to learn from its past very well, do we? When cities & federal agencies rather “clean up” spaces where homeless seek refuge, it’s not with a compassionate broom.

Wash your hands!

We know that cleanliness is next to Godliness. Ritualistic cleaning has been a spiritual and cultural act for a long time. Medical hand-washing practices are attributed to Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis Florence Nightingale. But, what comes naturally, for some, remains optional for others (you’ve seen the optional hand-washers at home and in public facilities).

While myriad experts declare that access to clean water is critical to human health, Flint, Michigan residents are still using bottle water — externally and internally. It’s been six years since the Flint Water Crisis was exposed, and Flint is still broken. Worse, is that lack of access to clean water, still common in the U.S. Navajo Nation, the Mississippi Delta & Appalachia crises are much older, and we know know this water issue is lurking elsewhere, awaiting someone to expose it. It’s an insult urge people to wash their hands when consistent access to clean water is, literally, a pipe dream for many. We don’t have to look far in our history to see the consequences of droughts in the U.S. Dried up crops and catastrophic fires are annual. We know how to mitigate these issues and have far more resources than Malawian, William Kamkwamba, had, when he became “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.” We have the knowledge for prevention, but, won’t use it to help make our nation better for everyone.

Crisis du Jour

There was a wide-spread response when folks realized that COVID19 wasn’t a hoax. A concerted effort, at the local, state and federal levels, has been mobilized to respond to those suddenly became poor in this country. But what about those who were poor before COVID19 because our latest crisis?

When the curve flattens, will people keep fighting for those whose are still suffering, or go back to ignoring the least of us? Will you work to create a better, new normal or return to an inequitable old normal? Will you support elected officials who have demonstrated how to respond on crisis or select those who are comfortable with reactive policy-making, instead of responsive planning? We have more than enough crises to work on, if we can only remember to learn from the past.