Our gardener, Jose, came over today.

“How is your family?” my husband and I casually asked. His visage changed.

“My brother and his wife died last week of COVID, in Mexico.”

Speaking with Jose (who rushed over to help us with a totally trivial gardening matter) brought me to tears; in fact, I had to go inside. Jose’s family has worked on what is now our home for more than 30 years; frankly, this piece of real estate is more “theirs” than “ours.” So, so many working-class families are on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. That’s why I have so little patience—actually, NO patience—with generally white, work-at-home people (like me) who say, “Oh! We need to shut down until there’s a vaccine!”

Get a clue, people. COVID is a part of our world now, and people who think everyone can “shelter in place” and “Zoom” into the “new normal” are living in a fantasy world. We need to be SMART. We need to be CAREFUL. We need to support those who live and work in the public realm to keep us all ALIVE and LIVING.

Just over the border, Mexico is feeling COVID—big time—and that means that the families of their immigrant brethren here in the United States are suffering. Today was heart-breaking. Wearing a mask and going out to eat at a restaurant or shop in a small business isn’t that hard. Stop pretending that we can “internet” this pandemic into submission. That is the definition of white privilege.

We’re all in this together—but some of us are “more” in this than others. Get out of your digital bubble. Shop. Be careful. Support your local small businesses and restaurants—smartly—and stop calling for “shutting down” forever. Many people in working-class communities don’t have that option.

The next time you ask to “shelter in place” forever, please realize that the people whose labor allows you to “shelter” cannot.

David Perry is a public-relations consultant and author of the new novel Upon This Rock. He and his husband, Alfredo Casuso, live in Palm Springs; www.davidperry.com.

One reply on “Community Voices: Stop Calling for a Complete Shutdown—Because Those of Us Who Are Less Privileged Can’t ‘Shut Down’”

  1. Sheltering in place for a couple of weeks, with competent leadership in Washington and actual aid where it’s needed would make a world of difference here. It certainly has in other countries.
    Intelligent behavior would constitute considering the consequences of one’s actions and not being part of the problem.
    A gardener typically can distance themselves from other workers, a housekeeper, retail clerk, flight attendant, waitstaff and kitchen workers cannot. I’ve lost two flight attendant friends to this pandemic, and many more of us have died, unannounced in the news.
    This isn’t an issue of “white privilege”, this is an issue of lack of understanding public health and our role in either preventing or spreading this deadly disease.
    My experience in the field of public health has also taught me that the biggest barrier to disease prevention is that many people resist disruption to their belief system.
    Daily, we learn more alarming facts about COVID-19. Opening up and conceding to demands of people who deny this is a national emergency-or even a real problem, will just prolong this disease, death and financial devastation.

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