It has been one year since those of us in the United States began to shut down in-person activities as we recognized the danger of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s an understatement to say the last year has been difficult. For many, many of us, it has been devastating. More than two and a half million people have died worldwide, including more than 520,000 Americans. In the last year, Covid has killed almost as many Americans as cancer. And, as has been the case for 400 years in the U.S., Black people have been in the center of the storm.
Black people are 1.4 times more likely to die from Covid than white people. Indigenous people are 5.3 times more likely to be hospitalized than white people, and Black and Brown Americans are 4.7 times more likely. People of color are more likely to work in essential jobs, more likely to be exposed to the virus, and less likely to have a safety net when we suffer health setbacks, or when we lose jobs or child care.
Women have suffered more than men, and women of color, including Trans women, have suffered the most. Women are doing more unrecognized household labor than before the pandemic. In recent months, four times the number of American women are dropping out of the labor force compared to men. I’m sorry to say the list goes on. Isolating folks in their homes over the last year led to a spike in domestic violence. We’re also experiencing a mental health crisis — and us men are still not seeking the help we should. Our education system is struggling. All of these crises intersect and those at the margins of the margins are hurt the most.
But we have a big opportunity for action right now. Millions of people worldwide are getting vaccines every day, although that process is also affected by race, gender, and class. We’re seeing hiring pick up. The racial justice and gender justice movements over the last year have inspired me so much. We’ve seen some of the biggest protests and resistance in American history, and we’re seeing momentum that we haven’t felt since the Civil Rights era.
As we begin to emerge from this pandemic, I want to call on all of the men listening. Make a commitment — right now — to do things differently from now on. Together we can — we must — build a society that is more just, more inclusive, more loving than the world has ever seen. But it will take all of us.
If you already considered yourself a practicing aspiring ally for women and those at the margins of the margins, think about how you can do just a bit more (or a lot more). If you’re just starting your journey, thank you. We need you. I urge you to learn, to listen to, and lift up voices at the margins, and to donate money and skills.
Let’s commit right now that collective liberation will be the focus of the post-Covid world. We can do it. Now’s the time.