Business As Usual
by: Hansol Choi
Brooklyn, New York
In the midst of a season when time feels suspended and all normal daily activity has come to a silent halt, I realize in my privilege – even as a Korean American immigrant minority during the time of covid – that for many, there is never such a thing as a cessation of normal daily activity.
Not when normal daily activity involves watching behind your back lest a man mistakens you at fault for a chain of robberies. Not when normal daily activity is a simple jog, that can, in the quickest of split seconds, turn into the fight of your life. Not, when normal daily activity is constant vigilance against the rushing tide of discrimination, hatred, and forceful dehumanization that tears down at your individuality, your community, your people’s history.
There has been a slow, increasing din of the anguish of helplessness that surfaced beneath my thoughts as the city I love quieted their movements around me, with numbers of the dead, like ticker tape, shooting up in the hundreds by day. It’s fueled into a low buzz in my ears as the inadequacies of this nation’s leadership to save lives is evident in crisp numbers, barely scratching the surface of the total afflicted. Then, louder still, the beating of the drum of that din as I read and watch firsthand accounts of black and brown folks arrested, denied access to health care, represented by percentage of deaths wildly disproportionate to other demographics in New York City. Business as usual, it seems, in our marginalized communities. Normal daily routine has not ceased.
My heart cannot fathom, my mind cannot grasp, the excruciating horror and the soul splitting shock that must have shot through the veins and nerves of the family and friends of Ahmaud Arbery. We have suspended business as usual – all normal operations of societal work and play; we have complained at stay at home extensions, stormed into Michigan capitol buildings with guns, pushed out into the streets of California in protest of measures that were supposed to grind all normal functions of a community and yet – of this, you have never taken the breath to pause. You have continued normal daily activity. Your hatred marches before you, overcomes you, consumes you with the vile assumption that you are entrusted, somehow, with the decision making power to injure and then take away the final breath of a young black man that has done you no harm, whose normal daily function was to take a jog outside.
As cities and states slowly, prematurely, awake from this covid slumber in efforts to return to business as usual, what happens then, to others like Ahmaud Arbery, whose business as usual never paused when the world around him was winding down?
I stand with Ahmaud Arbery. I run with Ahmaud Arbery. Business cannot ever resume as usual, when the usual picks and chooses which innocent men are allowed to roam free.
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