I feel like every day I read a new article that questions what will happen when the pandemic is over and how maybe this pandemic will help create a more equal society. But I know diseases don’t create more equal societies: activists do.
The pandemic is creating a period of uncertainty and upheaval, but how that eventually resettles into an ordered society is completely within our control. And, for many of us, this pandemic has given us something valuable that other epidemics to date have not: time to contemplate our situation while still maintaining contact with one another.
We may not be able to utilize traditional activist tactics at the moment, but we can still organize. If we emerge from this pandemic ready to demand action from our government, real change is possible.
We need to be ready to fight for what we know is right. While grassroots activists scramble to make masks, help food banks, and donate blood to support our communities, big business and anti-abortion groups are using the pandemic to push their agendas.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t prioritize helping our communities in this time of need. Of course, that is the most important thing we can do right now. However, we also need to be thinking ahead to the future. We need to come up with new plans to address the problems we will be facing, not just a month from now but a year from now, as a result of the lasting impact of this pandemic.
During a pandemic, our society is only as healthy as the most vulnerable among us. We must address the glaring racial and economic disparities in our healthcare system. We will need plans for healthcare reform that focus on the needs of people of color and low income families. Every dollar we invest in keeping people healthy saves valuable resources during a crisis.
During a pandemic, there are no school shootings. It should not take shutting our schools down to keep our students safe. We will need a plan for how to enact enough common sense gun legislation to send our kids back to school safely.
During a pandemic, we all must rely on essential workers who make minimum wage. We will need plans for economic growth that put workers at the center. Rising wages help GDP growth overall, and in a year, the government will no longer be in a position to hinder economic growth to serve the interests of big business.
During a pandemic, our normal way of conducting elections is no longer safe. We will need plans to expand vote by mail options, not just during a crisis, but during all elections, so that every person in our democracy can have their voice heard. We need to expand vote-by-mail so that everyone in our Commonwealth can vote safely
For now, we should do what we can. It’s reckless to open the country too soon, so for now our activism will need to be done from a safe distance. Our first priority should be supporting our most vulnerable communities and protecting our frontline workers. Do anything you can to help them. Donate blood and supplies to help our medical workers. Help support food industry workers and grocery store employee efforts to unionize.
Join our effort to hold the president accountable for the lives lost due to his disastrous response to this virus. Whether you’re working on the frontlines or staying home to keep people safe, we want to hear your story. You can also contact your friends online, and even reach out to other activists who share your values. Join new groups that champion your favorite causes.
And, most important, when November comes, remember everything that has happened. Remember every flaw that this crisis revealed about our country and everything this president did to make our COVID-19 response the worst of any nation in the developed world.
Virginia can emerge from this crisis stronger, if we’re all ready to burst out of the quarantine organized, passionate, and ready to demand what is best for our communities. Whether or not a better world emerges from this crisis isn’t up to fate, it’s up to us.