Select Page

Reggie Jackson: The COVID-19 pandemic lays bare the absolute moral corruption of our society

We are facing a crisis that is unmatched in our lifetimes. The City of Milwaukee suffered its first Coronavirus related death on March 20. As of March 22, there has been 33,276 confirmed cases of Americans with the COVID-19 infection. Just six days ago the number was 4,661. So far 409 Americans have died due to the virus, compared to only 85 who had died six says ago. On the worldwide stage, 1,593 people died yesterday of Coronavirus and 1,651 died the day prior, for a total of 14,461 deaths according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

America is sorely lacking in tests completed, compared to other countries. States are ramping up the process, but combined we have only tested about 228,216 Americans according to the Coronavirus Tracking Project. Of those tested about 15% percent had confirmed positive results with many results still pending. Our lives are in turmoil at this point. It is not a time to mock or joke about the virus anymore. The only other time I can remember in my lifetime that was as challenging was after the 9/11 attacks.

I can clearly remember the 9/11 attacks. I was at work when co-workers rushed to get on the computer and see details of what was going on in New York. Of course the Internet was so busy we could not connect. Some of us ran to a conference room and watched television coverage. This was after the first plane hit. After a short time I went back to work but was called back after the second plane hit.

We were all in shock and the fear in the room was palpable. What could we do? Many got on the phone and called loved ones. I watched the aftermath for a period of time but had to get back to a big project I was working on. Later that night as I spent time catching up with the news coverage. I heard over and over that this day would change America.

As President Bush announced how we would seek revenge for the attacks, Americans appeared to rally around the flag. For a period of time it seemed we were all in the same boat. I heard people say time and time again that this crisis would allow us to transcend race and come together as a nation. We hugged it up and felt connected. We were delusional.

The feelings did not last. Because of the fact that the hijackers were from the Arab world, we began to see people being attacked. Anyone who appeared to be Arabs or Muslims were attacked verbally and physically across the country. Americans needed someone to blame.

The mood of the nation changed. Hatred towards Arabs and Muslims or those people mistakenly thought to be Arabs and Muslims grew exponentially. Hate crimes against those communities increased rapidly. A long history of being exposed to the stereotype of Arabs as terrorists, along with the background of the attackers activated the hate.

This hate is still quite prevalent. It led to the tragedy at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek in 2012 when innocent people were killed because an avowed White Supremacist killed people he thought were Muslims. My good friend Pardeep Kaleka lost his father in the attack. Muslim lawmakers have been attacked and called terrorists by many in our country.

In recent weeks Asian Americans have been attacked and blamed for the Coronavirus. It matters little to those who beat innocent people what their true nationality is. They don’t care if they are Chinese or Japanese or one of the dozens of other Asian groups. For these people they are all the same. Once again, some Americans need a scapegoat. They need someone to blame.

As the Coronavirus crisis continues to grow I believe we will see more attacks against Asian Americans on social media. The bullying that is taking place right now will expand as people suffer financially. It will be convenient to blame someone other than our systems that are supposed to protect us.

We will not blame the CDC for a lack of preparedness in the way that we should. Many will not blame the President who called this a “hoax” by the Democrats just a few weeks ago. We will not chastise the CDC for the mistake of not accepting test kits from China and other nation’s while we “developed” our own tests. “Made in America” ethnocentrism bit us in the behind and delayed our response and ability to test large numbers of people in the third largest country in the world. In South Korea 20,000 are being tested each day because they learned from the MERS (Middle East Respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2015 when 36 people died and put systems in place to be prepared for the next such outbreak.

Italy and Iran initially downplayed the threat and now have over 59,000 and 21,000 cases respectively Just a little over four weeks ago Italy had just three cases but today (March 23) 59,138 cases have been confirmed there despite placing the Northern region under lockdown and eventually the entire country on lockdown.

“Without testing, you have no idea how extensive the infection is. You can’t isolate people. You can’t do anything,” said Ashish Jha, who runs the Harvard Global Health Institute. “And so then we’re left with a completely different set of choices. We have to shut schools, events and everything down, because that’s the only tool available to us until we get testing back up.”

I hope that we can find a way to make it though a period that is causing the most disruptive time in our lives. I am not really concerned myself as to who is to blame. That will be discussed ad nauseam by many in the days and months to come.

As we analyze the victims of this horrendous tragedy we will see that the virus did not discriminate based on race or ethnicity or national origins. This virus has sickened people on every continent except Antarctica. As we practice social distancing to protect Americans I hope we take time as individuals to understand how fragile we are as a species.

A microscopic virus has the power to turn our world upside down. It does not matter if we are famous actors like Tom Hanks and Edris Elba. Multiple professional athletes around the world have tested positive. The virus does not care about their wealth or fame. Our shared humanity will be exposed for all to see. We should use this as a time to get past the ignorance of racism. This worldwide crisis should be a teachable moment for humanity. We are all in this together whether we like it or not.

After this passes, we will have learned a lot about ourselves. How we react to this changing world we face will be instructive. Will we truly be different as many thought we would be after 9/11?

We have the ability to change our attitudes and find a way to come together and stop discriminating. Based on our history, we will make the mistake of going back to business as usual like we did after 9/11 and continue to mistreat people based on differences. Only time will tell what we choose to do.

© Photo

The White House

  1. Coronavirus chaos on historic election day creates challenges for Milwaukee voters
  2. Passenger overcrowding forces MCTS to limit 10 riders per bus for health safety beginning April 9
  3. “Moment at the Museum” video series provides online tour of historic exhibit for Milwaukee public
  4. Sofa Cinema: Milwaukee Film launches virtual movie portal for home theaters
  5. Milwaukee Rep brings its creative performances and activities “From Our Home to Your Home”
  6. Democracy or Death: State GOP forces a smash-and-grab election with in-person voting during a pandemic
  7. Entitlement to Govern: How the fog of pandemic offers one more chance for a power grab
  8. Institutional Betrayal: The lasting trauma from playing down the threat of COVID-19 and failing to act
  9. Officials ask Milwaukee consumers to report fraudulent claims related to coronavirus crisis
  10. President Thanos: Trump’s genocidal intentions were foreshadowed in his re-election campaign video
  11. Citizen solders and airmen from Wisconsin National Guard assist with state’s COVID-19 response
  12. State National Guard units are taking the lead in the military’s response to the coronavirus
  13. Unfounded conspiracy theories force Wisconsin National Guard to debunk enforcement rumors
  14. U.S. Navy fires captain of aircraft carrier who sought help for his sailors stricken with COVID-19
  15. News outlets warned for months about the coronavirus but few listened
  16. Life goes on even when it doesn’t: Streaming a funeral “watch party” in the age of coronavirus
  17. Fear of The Walking Dumb: The health of our nation is being decimated by willful ignorance
  18. By The Numbers: Tracking the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic sweeping across Wisconsin
  19. Politics over Humanity: Wisconsin GOP seeks to rig latest election through attrition of urban voters
  20. Milwaukee leaders explore using Wisconsin State Fair grounds as overflow facility for COVID-19 patients
  21. Milwaukee COVID-19 survivor shares personal medical experience via social media to educate others
  22. Regional banks and city leadership plan cooperative efforts to address Milwaukee's economic challenges
  23. Governor Tony Evers calls for special session to delay primary but Lawmakers insist election proceed
  24. Milwaukee faces poll worker shortage for April 7 election amid pandemic complications
  25. Protecting the Democracy: How to ensure safe elections amid the coronavirus pandemic
  26. Reggie Jackson: The next challenge of the COVID-19 fight in Milwaukee
  27. Already a community infected by racial hate, Anti-Asian sentiment hits Milwaukee along with COVID-19
  28. Building Community Bridges to Improve Health Equity in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond
  29. GoFundMe campaign raises funds to buy meals for frontline hospital workers from local restaurants
  30. A crisis within a crisis: COVID-19 disproportionally impacts Milwaukee’s black neighborhoods
  31. Public health concerns push Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic National Convention to August
  32. Reggie Jackson: Critical lessons we need to learn about COVID-19 from China and Italy
  33. Sorry, some of you have to die: A Conservative Christian plan to save the economy
  34. A wake-up call for humanity: The coronavirus pandemic exposes long ignored failures of our society
  35. Fear of demographic change has increased White Nationalist hate groups 55% in Trump era
  36. State Propaganda: Chinese media outlets hit with stricter rules while Fox churns out disinformation
  37. First week of staying at home: A window of images around Milwaukee for everyone stuck behind walls
  38. A Social Recession: The profound physical and psychological effects from long-term isolation
  39. An ego dripping in blood: Trump’s lies are killing Americans
  40. Obligations to each other: The pursuit of happiness is tied to the collective good
  41. Coronavirus and the Rule of Law: Courts struggle to preserve justice amid catastrophic conditions
  1. Milwaukee’s Holy Week observances canceled as public celebrations convert to at home video streaming
  2. Faith is not a Place: Church is a living body of people who gather in empathy, mercy, love, and justice
  3. St. Francis Seminary to provide shelter for residents with housing instability during COVID-19 crisis
  4. Millions of low-wage workers remain vulnerable to coronavirus due to lack of paid sick leave
  5. Milwaukee Hope: A hometown meme series designed to inspire optimism during the coronavirus crisis
  6. Dear America: I know how scared you are, I’m scared too
  7. Heroes of Hope: How to find healing and happiness when life is surrounded by havoc
  8. A Political Plan B: DNC organizers prepare contingency options for Milwaukee’s July Convention
  9. Coronavirus pours cold water on Olympic flame as Tokyo Games get postponed to 2021
  10. Milwaukee rolls out “drive-up” option for early voting to eliminate risk of COVID-19 exposure
  11. Hey, Milwaukee, you are not on vacation. Take the stay-at-home order seriously
  12. COVID-19 social media campaign launches in Milwaukee with best practices for staying healthy
  13. Coalition of Milwaukee philanthropies partner to coordinate local resources in response to COVID-19
  14. Fleeing the Coronavirus: The dangers for individuals and everyone they encounter along the journey
  15. Milwaukee County seeks donations of Personal Protective Equipment for COVID-19 frontline workers
  16. Medical gear from postponed charitable clinic to distributed first responders statewide
  17. The Great Apprehension: How to help kids relax as the pandemic upends everyday life
  18. The Myth of Youth: How children can be infected with coronavirus and transmit it to others
  19. Jonathan Brostoff: On COVID-19 and Wisconsin’s future “After the Storm”
  20. Reggie Jackson: The impact of racism is the “Other Coronavirus Crisis” for People of Color
  21. How to have a healthy conversation about the coronavirus with someone who is misinformed
  22. Mass transit in a time of need: MCTS to suspend fare collection for bus rides from March 28
  23. Fighting the Coronavirus: Why the U.S. military should deploy as a humanitarian aid force
  24. The Inconvenience of COVID-19: Understanding the shared national sacrifice for a greater good
  25. Kevin Abing: Milwaukee mobilized every resource possible in 1918 to combat the Spanish Flu epidemic
  26. Greatest Pandemic in History: Common misconceptions about the global influenza of 1918
  27. Month-long “Safer at Home” order urges Wisconsin residents to make sacrifices and work together
  28. Masks and the Microbe Menace: A misperception that safety measures shield risky activities from danger
  29. Not a Lockdown: Milwaukee implements “Stay At Home” directive in order to save lives
  30. Safer At Home: Wisconsin orders statewide closure of non-essential businesses to contain COVID-19
  31. Frontline nurses treating coronavirus victims condemn Trump’s racist rhetoric and cruelty
  32. PrideFest 2020 postponement due to COVID-19 foreshadows disruption of summer festival season
  33. Stop Touching Your Face: Changes to habitual behaviors can minimize the spread of COVID-19
  34. Reggie Jackson: The COVID-19 pandemic lays bare the absolute moral corruption of our society
  35. Health Official condemns Senator Ron Johnson’s false equivalency between traffic accidents and COVID-19
  36. The disappointment that comes when a pandemic cancels the freedom to party
  37. Vulnerable Populations: Infection rates and mortality from COVID-19 expected to hit the homeless hard
  38. Connecting without the human touch: How to cope with the side effects of social distancing
  39. Flattening the Curve: How to slow fear from spreading faster than COVID-19
  40. Sorry, We’re Closed: The signs and sights of solitude as Milwaukee digs in to fight COVID-19
  41. Being Positive during a Pandemic: 5 tips for getting through the coronavirus as a better person
  42. COVID-19 Mutual Aid: Confronting coronavirus conditions with community instead of consternation
  43. One of Wisconsin’s first two COVID-19 Deaths confirmed in Ozaukee County
  44. Price of our Pandemic: The bill for MAGA has come due and it is time to pay up
  45. The same people who believed COVID-19 was a hoax should now buy the homeopathic cure forsythia
  46. When plagues followed bad leadership: Greek tragedy of Oedipus Tyrannos is a lesson for Trump on COVID-19
  47. Wisconsin residents reminded to take precautions against COVID-19 scams and price gouging
  48. MCTS encourages riders to limit non-essential bus travel to help prevent spread of COVID-19
  49. The supply and demand of COVID-19: Predicted infection rates would overwhelm Milwaukee hospitals
  50. Wisconsin passengers under coronavirus quarantine aboard Grand Princess cruise ship return home safely
  51. Milwaukee Municipalities issue emergency orders closing bars and restaurants to protect public health
  52. Governor Tony Evers signs statewide order prohibiting mass gatherings of more than 50 People
  53. Teaching amid Coronavirus: What to expect from educational institutions as classes move online
  54. Wisconsin mandates closure of all K-12 Schools until early April to prevent spreading of COVID-19
  55. Closure of school cafeterias due to coronavirus puts poorest children at risk of missing nutritious meals
  56. Stop hoarding the Charmin: Why people are panic buying toilet paper when there is an abundant supply
  57. The social burden of Consumerism: Shopping carts are not overflowing with compassion
  58. Social Distancing: Think of it as “Elbow Room” for your health in the age of contagious pathogens
  59. City’s Health Department urges Milwaukee residents to avoid non-essential travel
  60. Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office outlines COVID-19 protocols for protecting individuals in custody
  61. Coronavirus Hits Home: Milwaukee confirms first case of COVID-19 within the city
  62. Impact of COVID-19 sinks in for Milwaukee Bucks fans after NBA suspends remainder of season
  63. Governor Tony Evers declares public health emergency for Wisconsin in response to COVID-19
  64. A cauldron for infectious disease: Spread of COVID-19 inevitable in overcrowded ICE detention centers
  65. From SARS to Avian Influenza: A witness to history reflects on the first epidemics of the 21st-century
  66. Public health officials face challenges in distinguishing COVID-19 from seasonal influenza
  67. Plain old soap and water: Why hand-washing is still the best way to prevent illness
  68. Coronavirus Update: Milwaukee outlines preparations and precautions for dealing with COVID-19
For medical information, guidance, and resources, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 information page or the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. All editorial content published by Milwaukee Independent related to the coronavirus can be found at
Our mission of transformative journalism means that we are editorially independent. Our staff determines what is important news to report on, and in what voice to speak on issues. No one influences our opinion, and no one edits our editors. We are free from commercial bias and are not influenced by corporate interests, political affiliations, or a public preferences that rewards clicks with revenue. As an influential publication that provides Milwaukee with quality journalism, we depend on public support to fulfill our purpose. Our award-winning photojournalism, columns, interviews, and features have helped to achieve a range of positive social impact that enriches our community. Please join our effort by entrusting us with your contribution. Your Support Matters - Donate Now

About The Author

Reggie Jackson

As an award-winning Senior Columnist for the Milwaukee Independent, Reggie Jackson covers a range of African American issues. He is also a Consultant with Nurturing Diversity Partners, and volunteers as Head Griot for America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) in Bronzeville.