There are serious concerns about the decision of Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp to reopen businesses as of Friday, April 24th.
Here are some among the many concerns:
What are the protections for workers at barbershops, gyms, nail salons? Will PPE be mandatory, will they be provided by the state?
Will workers and customers at such establishments be able to get free testing?
Will the state expand medicare to pay for healthcare costs incurred by people who catch the virus?
Will the state provide secure mechanisms for contact tracing?
Will the state provide expanded minimum wage guarantees to employees putting themselves at risk?
Will the state provide for a moratorium on evictions and actions against those businesses who choose not to reopen?
Will mayors choose morals above profits to protect their citizenry?
By now, there have been a lot of analyses of appropriate ways to reopen economies. For example, Austria is investigating a rollback in it’s lockdown but provides more social support and has reported 1/3 the deaths as the state of Georgia. Masks are required in public spaces. Georgia has also not shown the sustained downward trajectory of cases. Most alarmingly, Georgia, as many other areas, has tremendous inequality in healthcare access according to recent figures from the Georgia Department of Health, more than 50% of the deaths occur amongst African Americans. Black people account for just over 30% of the residents of the state.
I started a petition to ask for more accountability. If you’re a resident of the state, please ask questions via the governor’s constituent services site. If you live in Atlanta or Decatur, or Albany, you can express support for your elected officials to enact morally responsible policies. GoFundMe campaigns or other mutual aid might be effective in keeping your favorite local business afloat while safe practices are enacted.
The post from Dr Bernice King is a sobering reminder of her father’s assassination 52 years ago in Memphis Tennessee
There are three things that run through my head as I sit with that.
He died in solidarity with sanitation workers
The Memphis sanitation workers were on strike to protest inhumane working conditions — two fellow workers Echol Cole and Robert Walker had been crushed to death inside of a garbage truck.
Sanitation workers in your city are putting themselves at extraordinary risk providing key services while a pandemic is going on. Healthcare workers too. What are the conditions under which they work where you live? Do they have the right to strike for adequate pay and healthcare? Are they afforded the protections that they need to stay alive and well?
He died calling for an end to poverty
During 1967, Dr. King had focused attention on an idea called The Poor People’s Campaign. Among it’s objectives were to provide everyone with the right to a basic guaranteed income. The idea being that in crises, no one should be forced into poverty. No one should have to live in poverty. The idea being that a country in which inequality has become so extreme is simply unjust.
Why can’t the US still come to account for these disparities after 52 years?
He knew that the power really lay with the people
Martin Luther King and the thousands of others who struggled with him marched, took blows, and sometimes died for causes that the mainstream politicians of both US political parties disparaged. He was despised and the subject of contempt and harassment by leaders in both parties. This didn’t stop him.
There is more to the struggle for human dignity that presidential elections. He and others demonstrated the power of collective action, of non-violence, of persistent action in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
It is indeed a dark time. Right now the devastation in a fragile healthcare and social system expose the persistent inequalities that Dr King died fighting. As his daughter remarks, “The evils he opposed then still exist now”.
That he and others like him were able to make incredible strides gives me hope.