Coronavirus Forces White Americans to Get a Taste of the Black Experience

Unemployment, poor health care, and physical restrictions are hurdles we’ve had to overcome for centuries

Published in
5 min readApr 7, 2020


A photo of an unhappy black woman looking out the window.
Photo: davidf/Getty Images

I lost my job this morning.

I’ve been laid off before in the past. But this was a good job with plenty of well-to-do white folks attached to it that invested a lot of money into what we were all working on. I figured that made it secure.

I was wrong.

The recent “stay at home” policy enacted for the entire state of California in response to the coronavirus threat requires all people to avoid going outside for nonessential work. Failure to adhere to this policy without just cause results in a fine and a possible misdemeanor. Unfortunately, my place of business did not fall into the category of being essential.

I’ve entered a familiar dissociative shock. I remember the times I went hungry as a child when my mom couldn’t pay the bills. And the fog that always descended upon my childhood psyche around the first of the month. Even at 10 years old, I knew when rent was due.

As soon as I got home today, I filed for unemployment online. Then I stood in line for 45 minutes outside a grocery store to get food. I called my family, who consoled me about my job loss but reminded me that everything was going to be all right.

This is not a useless platitude. It’s a fact. Black people consistently survive sudden tragedies. You could call it a hallmark of our culture. Food and money insecurity were a definitive part of my childhood. Most Black people collectively relate to this experience, if even to a small degree.

Meanwhile, the white people around me are reacting to the coronavirus threat in a myriad of extreme and deluded ways. Their confusion belies the fact that they’ve never collectively experienced a complete loss of control over the government and nature. Your average white person today has to talk to a grandparent or pick up a history book to have any conceptual understanding of what is actually happening right now.

Black people consistently survive sudden tragedies. You could call it a…



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