It didn’t take long before the mantra “We’re all in this together” turned into chants of “Let my people go.”
And we shouldn’t be surprised that President Trump is gleefully singing along with the “Let my people go” crowd.
After all, it’s not the first time the president has stood with the wrong group. Sadly, it won’t be the last.
In 2017, Trump gave some serious love to white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, waving flags and tiki torches.
Although there’s no disputing the fact that white supremacists spread racial hatred, Trump argued that there were “some very fine people on both sides.”
Now, in the midst of a pandemic that has so far killed more than 47,000 people in the U.S., Trump is egging on the people who are violating stay-at-home orders — orders that have likely saved thousands of lives.
It boggles the mind.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker was not overstating the threat to the peace when he said Trump’s tweets showing support for protests in Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and California are “fomenting some violence.”
After all, we are all under a lot of stress, and some of us are looking for someone to blame.
Because the campaign to “open the country again” popped up after data showed the coronavirus is killing more African Americans than any other racial group, the protests reinforce the belief that whether we are talking about gun violence or missing persons or disease, the pain is downplayed when victims are black.
In Chicago, where 60% of the people who have died of the coronavirus thus far were black, we are blessed.
At least we have a mayor who understands that pain.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot moved quickly to set up a “racial equity rapid response team” that includes public health experts and community activists to try and deal with the glaring disparity.
But the pandemic has exposed tensions between the states and the federal government that play right into the hands of conspiracy theorists, with governors saying one thing and Trump saying another.
I recently checked in with a male relative in his 60s, and he seriously argued the coronavirus was “put” here to get rid of black men.
Unfortunately, for too many African Americans, getting back to normal means getting back to a dead-end, low-paying job and being in the “more than likely” queue for chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
But while the coronavirus has brought heartache and pain to many of our doorsteps, it may have opened a lot more eyes to the racial inequities in health care, jobs and education that have been ignored far too long.
Obviously, black people can’t do anything now about the underlying health problems that could make recovery from this virus a lot harder.
But we can choose to tackle those health care concerns going forward, and we can raise our voices to support local governments that are following the advice of health care experts.
Most of all, we should continue to take precautions because the battle is not over.
We should continue to wash our hands frequently.
We should continue to wear a mask when we go out in public and kick off our shoes when we come back in the house.
We should seek out a testing site if we are feeling under the weather and self-quarantine if we test positive for the coronavirus.
And we should continue practicing social distancing and stay away from gatherings of more than 10 people.
Like most Chicagoans, I’m tired of being cooped up, and I’m tired of nagging my husband about making unnecessary trips outside of the house.
But this isn’t all about me.
It’s also about my family, my neighbors, my friends and my city.
Frankly, from the televised reports I’ve seen about the protest rallies, I didn’t see much difference between the flag-waving mob that used the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee to advance a white supremacy agenda and the protesters that are using the constitution to defy health orders put in place to save lives.
By now we ought to know the drill.
Instead of our nation’s leader pulling us together, he’s set on pulling us apart.