Dear Mr. President,
It must be a relief to have been discharged from the hospital after your COVID diagnosis. It's a positive outcome that 210,000 people in this country did not get to experience; I am sure you are grateful and respectively contemplative about this juxtaposition.
Upon your discharge, you urged the American people, the people you are charged with leading, to not be scared of COVID.
It's tempting, this notion of not being afraid. We'd love to not be afraid. Unfortunately, that is not a concept based on the reality of most Americans, especially mothers.
We are afraid. Terrified, really.
You see, your COVID experience is vastly different from the people you "represent." If we get sick, we won't have access to the experimental drugs you received; we may not even have access to drugs or treatment at all. Every week I get an email informing me how many ICU beds are available in my local hospital—Oh good, I sigh. It looks like there's a lot of room in the ICU this week; if I get sick hopefully they'll have room for me.
That is how I get my relief these days—it's not normal and it's terrifying.
To not be scared of COVID is a mighty privilege not afforded to most mothers in this country. We don't have the luxury of not being afraid.
It appears that the lived-experience of the American people has eluded you, so before you post another bravado-infused message of false optimism, I'll take a few moments and let you know why you shouldn't.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when everything we count on, everything that gives us a semblance of security and comfort in this world is hanging on by a thread.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when we must choose between in-person school and virtual learning, and in doing so choose between our children's physical and mental wellbeing; what a daunting decision to make.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when an astronomical hospital bill could ruin our families financially should we get sick.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when Black and Hispanic women are disproportionately more at risk of getting COVID and becoming seriously ill from it.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when we have no idea what a single mother is going to do if she gets sick and can't take care of her children.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when we might lose our jobs (if we haven't already) because layoffs need to be made, or maybe just because we can't find the elusive balance between being a full-time worker and a full-time mother and a full-time teacher while living through full-time panic.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when we are not only faced with the reality that our loved ones might die, but that we won't be able to go to their funerals if they do.
Don't tell us not to be afraid without giving us any support.
Don't tell us not to be afraid when you have given us no reassurance that our families will be taken care of in the country we live in.
If your request is for us to not be afraid, our request is for you to address these issues. Until they are fixed, telling us not to be afraid is both out of touch and reckless.
Not being afraid is easy. It's easy to choose not to care or to not to think deeply about the consequences of one's actions.
Being afraid, and then being brave—that is hard. And that is what we, the American People, will do. So we will continue to be afraid. We will also continue to be brave.
Because bravery isn't the absence of fear, it's being afraid and doing it anyway.
So though we are afraid, we will keep going.
Though we are afraid, we will keep using our voices.
Though we are afraid, we will vote.
I'm glad you're feeling better, Mr. President.