Changing the Coronavirus Narrative

Less than two weeks after Floyd’s killing, the American death toll from the novel coronavirus has surpassed 100,000. Rates of infection, domestically and worldwide, are rising. But one of the few things it seems possible to say without qualification is that the country has indeed reopened. For 13 days straight, in cities across the nation, tens of thousands of men and women have massed in tight-knit proximity, with and without personal protective equipment, often clashing with armed forces, chanting, singing and inevitably increasing the chances of the spread of contagion.

Seventy years ago Camus showed us that the human condition itself amounts to a plague-like emergency — we are only ever managing our losses, striving for dignity in the process. Risk and safety are relative notions and never strictly objective. However, there is one inconvenient truth that cannot be disputed: more black Americans have been killed by three months of coronavirus than the number who have been killed by cops and vigilantes since the turn of the millennium. We may or may not be willing to accept that brutal calculus, but we are obligated, at the very least, to be honest.

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