Rainy days at school were my favorite because of the way they swept over the whole environment. It would seem like every feeling became more urgent as an audience of raindrops fell to stir them from within.
Today, I just hoped the rain was enough to keep more people home. It’s as if the weather was trying to smile upon Los Angeles, urging it to rest and be dormant during this time. But I also know that not far away at all, conditions were not as sparing. I thought of those people still resting their backs underneath the 101 freeway, and how the winds surely pelted them with droplets showing no relent.
I also learned today of the Chicago Tribune report showing that Black patients for COVID-19 in Chicago are dying at nearly six times the rate of white patients.
Indeed, some of the hardest hit communities on the South and West sides have struggled with unemployment and health care access for generations. As a result, residents have higher baseline rates of diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and high blood pressure — the chronic conditions that make the coronavirus even more deadly.
In Los Angeles, metrics for the 173 deaths from coronavirus reported so far are still preliminary, but so far do appear to show consistency with what’s been seen in Chigago, Milwaukee, Detroit and Washington D.C.: that Black Americans are disproportionately dying from COVID-19 compared with other groups.
I know that this brings great sadness, as well as great anger to Black people across the nation. I also know that if this is to change for future generations, it is imperative for the immigrant community in cities like Los Angeles to learn about how we are inextricably connected with the African-American community in almost every walk of life.
I think of the Metro Blue Line, which was the first modern rail line in L.A., running from Long Beach through South Central and onto downtown L.A. at Figueroa and 7th street. L.A. Metro now has seven such railways spanning towards every main thoroughfare in the city, and its services are lifelines for my mother and millions of other humble travelers like herself. Black people in South Los Angeles played no small part in making these services accessible, just as Rosa Parks in Montgomery not only freed bus seats all over the south but also cleared the way for the civil rights movement.
Across America, hundreds of years before the word “immigrant” was used to describe people from other lands here, there were Black people lifting, nursing, farming and raising America to be carried into the arms of the next generation.
Today, as the coronavirus exposes further a racial wealth gap that our public discourse nearly forgot about between Obama’s final days in office and Trump’s first, it’s clear we’re only a few passages removed from these pages of history.
In the coming days, as conversations continue over how to respond to these reports, immigrant communities, along with every ally in America, need to voice unequivocal support for the Black community in outrage at this discrimination in our health-care system and everywhere else where segregation and complacency still undercut America in half: one where its children deserve a future, and another where children are left to die under the overpass.
Immigration rights advocates cannot expect an end to attacks from ICE or a closing of all immigrant detention facilities based on merit and hard work alone; success in these movements requires recognizing the interests our communities share with prison abolitionists and other current civil rights leaders in the African-American community, particularly at this moment looming over all of us.
I do believe that 52 years ago, it’s what the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and his contemporaries sought to teach all of our communities before yet more innocent lives were unnecessarily lost. Now, when is it time, Los Angeles?