An Open Letter to COVID-19

Dear COVID-19,

This is a first, I’m sure. Only a special kind of person (or a delusional one) would write a letter to an acute respiratory disease that has put the world on its heels.

Well, the fact that you’ve got the world at a halt, this could very well be my personal version of crazy kicking in on day fifteen of quarantine.

To be honest, staying inside isn’t all that bad for me as an introvert, but does feel different as it’s not a choice, but a way of life at the moment.

Personally, I don’t see any silver linings or bright sides with your arrival, but I do see a teacher.

Nonetheless, I’m okay and trying my best to sit-in gratitude that my immediate needs are met: safe shelter, food, good health, and a healthy family.

With your arrival, it’s hard to find any silver linings, especially when people are risking and losing their lives at such a fast pace.

The idea of silver linings, I think, comes from human beings needing there to be a reason for a trauma to process the traumatic event.

If the trauma is for a reason or a cause, then it would ease the pain in some way, even a little. Personally, I don’t see any silver linings or bright sides with your arrival, but I do see a teacher.

I see a teacher that has penetrated its way into every facet of society and is asking us, individually and collectively: What do you value?

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve learned there are people in my life that I considered friends who I will gracefully release because your presence has made it abundantly clear what they value and what I do not.

Through you, I’ve learned that some people are solely drinking and going out companions costumed as genuine friendships.

Others are merely selfish, and social distancing doesn’t matter to them because they don’t fit the criteria for who you attack with intensity, revealing that their wants and needs are more important than those of the collective.

If there is one thing you’ve made explicit COVID-19, is the uselessness of billionaires and the poison that is capitalism.

Now that I think about it, maybe the lessons you’ll teach us collectively and individually, we’ve already had subconscious ramblings with when our schedules were overrun with emails, commutes, and meetings, making it easier to ignore.

But now, we have to sit with it all in a more conscious state with nowhere to hide.

Then there’s white supremacy, capitalism, and individualism. Those that have been paying attention know that these faux powers have been the designated authorities of America.

And with your arrival, it becomes crystal clear, what and who matters.

When celebrities can be tested without limits with results in a matter of days, that is capitalism at its best.

Because of you, more people may be recognizing the actual disconnect between those who have the luxury to treat this as a hoax and sing whimsical songs from their million-dollar mansions as opposed to putting their money where it matters.

Pharmaceutical corporations don’t see a global pandemic and consider how they can help the millions of people who’ll be undoubtedly affected. Instead, they are thinking how to maximize profits.

My fear, worry, and anger kick in when I think about the Black, Latino, and low-income people who keep this country running, who will eventually yield to your mercy.

I see a teacher that has penetrated its way into every facet of society and is asking us, individually and collectively: What do you value?

I’m angry for employees who work at Whole Foods, which claims their purpose is to nourish people and the planet, yet there is no evidence in how they are sustaining their team members as whole people outside of the workplace.

Offering a measly pay increase in the name of capitalism without additional paid time off, but an outdated donation system puts employees in a situation where they have to choose between putting food on the table or giving up a day’s pay.

If there is one thing you’ve made explicit COVID-19, is the uselessness of billionaires and the poison that is capitalism.

What a privilege it is to live in the United States of America and to now see her inequalities because of a pandemic.

Not from the kidnapping of Africans who built the country or the torture and dehumanization of Indigenous people who existed here far before white men could read maps — but from a pandemic that alters how the most privileged can live their lives with ease in a bubble.

White supremacy is indeed why a virus that began in China, can be labeled the “Chinese Virus,” “Wuhan Virus,” or the “China Virus.”

Why do we allow xenophobic comments air to breathe?

People of Asian descent around the world are experiencing racism and xenophobia at every turn, and we as a society have to ask ourselves why we allow this to happen.

Why are racists allowed to exist so freely among us?

Why do we allow xenophobic comments air to breathe?

In what equitable and fair society, is it plausible that we can turn our heads and say or hear without question:

“That’s not our problem,”

“Now they know how we feel,”

“Well, they get a taste of their own medicine.”

White supremacy has us all in its grips.

Through your presence, I, and those who are experiencing this event consciously are learning, unlearning, and re-learning at a rapid pace.

You’ve made injustices that are routine for many, epically clear for the masses. Systems don’t need to change, they need to be burned to the ground.

A revolution is the only way out.

Schools are supposed to be institutions that educate children, but in fact, they are a safe shelter that provides meals to hungry and homeless students with caregivers who are teachers.

Systems don’t need to change, they need to be burned to the ground.

You’ve forced us to ask and answer questions like: Who holds a society together?

And it’s obvious: The millions of teachers who are clueless about remote teaching but are figuring it out not for anyone but their students. It’s the postal workers, cashiers at the grocery stores, sanitation workers, food delivery drivers, taxi drivers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and the doctors, nurses, and medical staff who make sure hospitals and nursing homes are working at their highest potential.

You’ve forced us to ask if the most marginalized among us, the homeless, the disabled, and the incarcerated: Do they matter? If so, how do we leap to ensure their basic needs as human beings are met?

Why under normal circumstances are the disabled prevented from working remotely, those who would benefit greatly, can’t, yet now, the rest of the world is magically working from home?

You’ve forced us to ask if the most marginalized among us, the homeless, the disabled and the incarcerated: Do they matter?

How do we implore the government officials who work for us, that they actually go about the business of working for us by doing what we pay them to do?

I’m not sure how, as a society, we continue with business as usual after experiencing you.

I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic (primarily because of this administration).

Still, I have a burning hope that we will destroy all that is broken to the ground for something more focused, equal, and equitable. Eventually.

Please, run your course and go away,

Renée

Renée Cherez is a moon-loving, mermaid believing empath seeking truth, justice, and freedom. Feel free to read more of her writing on Medium here. Follow her on Instagram to indulge in her *sometimes* overly long captions on travel, self-discovery, mental health, and social justice.

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Renée Cheréz

Renée Cheréz

Renée Cheréz is a Black woman writer creating magic at the intersections of travel and Black liberation. Follow her on Instagram + Twitter (@reneecherez).