It feels like I’m back at the end of winter quarter once again: my county is going back into stay-at-home orders, the pandemic seems more daunting and horrifying than ever, and finals stress is kicking in.
A lot has changed in the last eight, nearly nine months since that moment. I’ve become more radical and have a stronger dream and vision for the world. I’ve written some of my favorite essays, columns, articles, and blog posts ever. I’ve met some inspiring folks virtually and reconnected with others. I would like to think I’ve grown and matured since all of this began.
But now we’re going to run it back. And it’s the indescribable mix of fear, stress, anger, and resentment that I felt in March. But now, I have a more comprehensive, more thorough understanding of these conditions. I understand what is responsible, who is responsible for these thousands of human beings that have died. I have a more nuanced perspective and one that honestly leaves me in a combination of both shock but more importantly one of rage.
I was having a conversation with my mom yesterday just about the recently announced stay-at-home orders as the mayors of San Francisco, San Jose, and our governor have all had dinner parties in the past month. She rightfully asked why I just kept getting so disgusted knowing I couldn’t do much to stop these politicians from treating this pandemic repeatedly as a poor peoples’ problem. And my response was that I will continue to be disgusted, remain disgusted, and vocalize my rage at the complete lack of empathy these folks have for their citizens.
Becoming more literate in understanding racial capitalism has been the most important place of growth I’ve had this year.
When I see these politicians having no care whatsoever, I think about the conditions and the system in its entirety for enabling not just a pandemic to get as bad as it has, but to also enable negligent leaders to be in charge. It’s what’s pushed me towards the works of Kropotkin and others who want to put our collectivism and every person in charge of their labor and their lives. So much of the agency that I once perceived as such is no form of freedom at all. But the omnipresent nature of exploitation merely masquerades itself just as reality. It conditions us to believe that there is no other world, that there is nothing beyond what we have.
When I learned about the stay-at-home orders returning this Monday, the first thing that crossed my mind is the inevitable mass unemployment that will once again continue. With essential businesses being the only ones allowed to operate, there are nowhere near enough opportunities for folks to help pay the bills and support their families. I think about how no substantive initiative to help fund and support folks is on the way within the next month or even more. We see how in the most vulnerable, most trying time where citizens are in grieving and in need, the state has told us it will not care (not that it cannot of course) or give a damn about you.
But whereas almost nine months ago I felt hopeless, today I feel more empowered. We know how impactful collective care is. I’ve seen such powerful examples both in my communities as well as those all over the world to meet the needs of folks. Rather than dwelling and continuing to get angry (won’t ever stop), I’m gonna do what I can to help people as much as I can. For this round of time in stay-at-home orders is I know what I can do to reduce some burdens for folks in need of support. I know what books I can continue to go through and continue my radical study. The next few weeks, or however long this period will be, I’m going in at least more ready about what I can do. That is something I’ll be grateful for.