Story by Caroline Kimbel
Print Managing Editor
Illustration by Talulla Chow
I’m usually a very open person when it comes to my emotions. I don’t feel embarrassed crying in public, or when I laugh too hard that I practically start falling over. I’m very certain in the fact that whatever I’m feeling is usually valid, and that I am entitled to express my emotions even though societal pressures sometimes tell us not to.
However, in this global pandemic, I’ve been finding it extremely difficult to admit it when I’m sad, or when I’m having trouble coping. Part of my struggle definitely has to do with the guilt I feel considering the immense privilege I have through this crisis. I have health care, no one in my immediate family has to leave the house to work, and I don’t personally know anybody who has contracted the disease or died from it. But there are a lot of people that can’t say the same, and coronavirus has only further highlighted the detrimental structural and economic inequality of this country.
It’s no secret that COVID-19 is hitting the most vulnerable people the hardest. Communities of color aren’t necessarily more susceptible to the disease, but generations of unequal access to nutritious food, healthcare, and clean water put them at higher risk of complications. In New Mexico, Native Americans make up less than 10 percent of the population but over 30 percent of coronavirus cases. The Detroit News reported that more than 40 percent of people killed in Michigan by coronavirus are Black.
What’s scary is how little the media and government is properly covering the racial disparities of this disease. Most states have not released any race-specific data on cases or deaths but neither has the federal government. The fact that the President is calling this the “Chinese virus” is not helping at all in that respect.
I know that all I can really do right now is stay home and social distance, try to find hobbies to keep me busy and donate to charities that will help the most vulnerable people. But I also know that the fact that I can stay home and social distance is an extreme privilege. The Economic Policy Institute reported that “Only 9.2 percent of workers in the lowest quartile of the wage distribution can telework, compared with 61.5 percent of workers in the highest quartile…less than one in five Black workers and roughly one in six Hispanic workers are able to work from home.”
Considering how privileged I am through this situation, I’ve been struggling to talk about how sad I am that high school came to a sudden close, or how much never seeing my closest friends is affecting my mental health. But, I think especially through this, it’s important to remember that all struggles are relative. Even though my family will likely survive this crisis in a very economically stable manner, it’s still valid for me to be sad that I won’t experience probably the best portion of high school according to most high school-related films, books, and even my parents. As long as people keep in perspective how lucky they are through these hard times, it’s okay to grieve experiences they’ve lost or people they miss. Everyone needs to be doing what they can to cope right now, and the first step towards that is being open about how they feel.