OPINION: Amid COVID-19 Crisis, U.S. Must Heal All the Wounds that Got Us Here | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

OPINION: Amid COVID-19 Crisis, U.S. Must Heal All the Wounds that Got Us Here

Columnist Duvalier Malone says the COVID-19 crisis is the perfect and necessary time to demand real and lasting change, and to avoid being so unprepared for such a crisis again. Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst.

Columnist Duvalier Malone says the COVID-19 crisis is the perfect and necessary time to demand real and lasting change, and to avoid being so unprepared for such a crisis again. Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst.

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Duvalier Malone

As the U.S. reels from the effects of COVID-19, we are faced with a stark reality: We were desperately and woefully unprepared for a crisis. America has been exposed, as we struggle to maintain a semblance of normal life while our societal norms crumble around us. We were not ready for this. But could we have been?

We are still unable to get a handle on this crisis, because of one fact: Our country seems to have an inability to learn from the past. Whether it's because of our current leadership or because we have grown complacent, we are in a crisis of our own making because we refuse to let our experiences guide us.

As the country faces coronavirus, we are also dealing with other challenges, such as an increasingly unstable stock market, an upcoming and probably chaotic election, racial tension, the struggle over the death penalty, and a silent U.S. Senate that seems to be unwilling to pass bills that will truly help the American people.

It's time for us to ask ourselves: "Why is this happening? Have our hearts changed, and have we begun to heal from the wounds of our dark past?"

Even faced with the threat of a worldwide pandemic that threatens our mortality, we are as divided as ever. We are unable to agree on simple facts, and we remain torn on issues of morality. Even as an unseen enemy extinguishes all around us, our political leaders continue to engage in gamesmanship, instead of passing legislation that will reassure the American people.

Where our lawmakers once led at the forefront of the movement for change, it's obvious that many of them have now become content and silent. They are content to sit back and watch Americans panic, while they collectively fiddle. Where are they now when we need them the most?

Every political leader in America should be working to ensure that each state has the supplies and funding to provide testing and treatment for those that are ill from COVID-19. They should do whatever they possibly can to ease the stresses of life for Americans. We shouldn't be faced with student loans, evictions and lack of funds for simple life necessities. This virus thrives on person-to-person contact, and so many are unable to earn a living. Our work force is crippled.

Why are our politicians so afraid to come up with big and bold ideas that will help the average citizen of this country? This is the time for change. This is the time to think outside of the box. America is currently at a literal standstill. This is where we can improve our system.

Our political leaders must pass legislation that is aimed at improving our lives: health care for all Americans, immigration reform, common-sense gun legislation and student-loan relief. Make certain that every child in this country has access to a quality education when they come back to school. Give reparations to the descendants of American slaves. We built the "land of the free," but are we really free when so many black people across this country are living in poverty, which ironically makes us more susceptible to contracting coronavirus?

Prison reform is needed now. Abolish the death penalty and provide care for those that are imprisoned.

It's time to heal our country—in every way.

Many will say that we can't do this right now. They will say it's not the right time. I say that this is the perfect time. Our country is in need of an overhaul that starts from the top down. While we are facing this crisis, let's have a moment of reflection and truly do the work that is necessary to improve American lives.

In an election year when we face an unthinkable crisis, the American people are ready for a change now more than ever. Across the country, many are living in fear of the unknown. Our schools are closed, many businesses are closed, mass events have been canceled, we are unable to travel, our primary elections are being postponed, and many feel as if our very democracy is at risk.

But even though fear is sweeping the American people, we refuse to be silent. We may be unable to gather in crowds as a show of force, but with technology at our disposal, we can and will make ourselves heard. We are ready to lay out our demands to both political parties, and as long as we are facing the threat of COVID-19, we will come to the digital table with our potential leaders of tomorrow to exchange views.

In the middle of this crisis, we may not be sure of much, but we are sure of one thing: This cannot happen again. We can't ever again allow ourselves to be caught in a crisis that could have been avoided. It's time for us to elect leaders that will keep the American people safe, and that will create an America where everyone can be successful.

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, a social movement is brewing. We demand change, real change that will produce real progress. In the words of Malcolm X, "If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even pulled the knife out, much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there."

America: It's time to pull the knife out, and it's time to heal the wound. It's time to heal the American people.

Duvalier Malone is the author of "Those Who Give A Damn: A Manual for Making a Difference," a motivational speaker, community activist and CEO of Duvalier Malone Enterprises, a global consulting firm. He lives in Washington, D.C.

This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the Jackson Free Press.

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