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Virus divides Americans into the careful and cavalier

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- For as long as I've written about race -- which is to say, 30 years and counting -- I've been told to not write about race.

After a recent column that had nothing to do with race -- or ethnicity, culture etc. -- a reader damned my effort with faint praise.

"Good article," he wrote. "And not pro Latino and not pro illegal immigrant for once."

I don't owe anyone an explanation for what I write, or don't write. But, were I to offer one, this would be where I invoke the journalist's creed to "comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable."

In 2020, Latinos and immigrants are afflicted six ways from Sunday.

And so, I was surprised by a recent development: COVID-19 has made me "post-racial."

 

I still think about the fact that, in the epicenter of New York City, Latinos are being infected at rates that far exceed their percentage of the population. And I haven't lost sight of the reality that, just as Americans are obsessing more than usual over food and groceries, Latino farm workers are working in the fields and risking infection to preserve our food supply.

Still, for the most part, I no longer think as much about race or ethnicity as I used to before COVID-19 arrived on the scene -- killing more than 10,000 people in the United States, wrecking the U.S. economy by leaving millions unemployed, and turning our lives inside out.

These days, what interests me are the things that unite Americans -- like love and fear, i.e., love for our family members and fear that they could be infected -- rather than what divides us. Post-coronavirus, the usual dividing lines over race, ethnicity, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, and immigration status don't seem so important after all.

The virus doesn't discriminate. Why should we?

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