The Lockdown Diaries: Week 12

by Janice Nigro

The same title convention, but I think we’re no longer in lockdown in Los Angeles. Maybe we’ve morphed into something else. Lockdown plus? Now windows and doors are boarded up, and military helicopters fly over long after it’s time for bed.

It’s as if the words people sling at each other in the virtual world in media and on social media boiled over into a physical reality. Overnight people forgot what it means to be an American, what it means to be human, and took it to the streets.

I’ve struggled this week as I’ve watched protests and vigils – from afar – there’s a pandemic going on still. When I saw a beautiful little house for sale in Bergen, Norway on Facebook last week, I thought for a moment I want to escape, to go back. But then I wondered if Norway would even take an American after this. Maybe if I seek asylum…

I’ve fallen into the rabbit hole of the internet. Because who could not? First it was concern and worry and just shock. Hours of time wasted watching cities around the country burn, and people looting and beating others (or worse) in broad daylight or in full view of security cameras.

In the aftermath, there is a nation-wide campaign to defund the police and what appears to be a new country forming in the middle of Seattle, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or the CHAZ. A group in support of racial justice have run the cops out of their precinct and set up barricades to keep everyone out unless you might be an actual resident in those few city blocks.

“You are now leaving the USA” their website states along with a long list of demands many of which are directed to the police. But they also want rent control and free college for the state of Washington. Possibly the most sensible demand is to allow more flexibility in the voting process so that “they are not forced to choose at the poll between equally undesirable options.” Sounds almost reasonable. But does that then make them their own country still?

I don’t know. I’m curious to see how this ends.

The protests won out over our fears of the pandemic. And maybe fueled it. We’re all waiting to see how it turns out. In Los Angeles now, they are advising testing for anyone who participated in the protests. Or at least asking people to self-quarantine for two weeks. I don’t think that’s happening because the beach at 5 this afternoon was filled with college age kids.

So much for the death of George Floyd and equality. When I sat down to write this, it felt hollow, as I think of the faces of all the talented people I’ve had the honor of working with or the ones I see through media, to wonder if America has made any progress in race relations in the last 50 years. I think we have, in more ways than the media will allow us to admit. Is it enough? No. The protests confirm that. But after 50 years, I’m not sure we get off that easily labeling every unfavorable outcome on racism. It’s no longer just racism, it’s racism compounded with decades of failed policies in education, health care and economic growth in low-income communities.

So when I look at some of our politicians who have been in office for 40 years, or more, and we are still here in the year 2020 even after the election of a president who is biracial, I wonder whether it’s really been a priority. I’m not feelin’ it. It seems the status quo, wait and see what happens, was just fine until social media showed up.

The laws for equality in this land have been on the books for years. Then who is it we should be angry with? Sure the protests show that some of us are mad and aren’t going to take it any more from some of the ruling class. But it isn’t someone else’s job to behave for us. It’s the job of each one of us to behave with respect to each other, to strangers, family, friends, the police and the people governing this nation.

As I see it, we’re all responsible for what happens in the streets. The protests are over, now let’s see what we can do. Because the cameras are on, they are on everyone.

 

Stay safe everyone…

 

©Janice Marie Nigro/janikiInk.com

Looking for a scientific editor or writer? Contact Janice Nigro at Janice Nigro Ink. I have published in Cell, Science, and Nature, and articles I have edited have appeared in Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer ResearchPLoSONE, the Journal of Surgical Oncology, and Oncotarget.

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