In the last three weeks, every Indian person I know has had a family member in India test positive for Covid-19 or have died from it.
As you may have seen by know, India is struggling with one of the worst Covid outbreaks ever since the global pandemic began. With nearly 400,000 new cases discovered every day and nearly 225,000 total deaths, India is dying. The virus has mutated, becoming only more deadly. In addition, Indian citizens are unable to go to the hospital for help, due to overcrowding and lack of resources such as oxygen tanks and beds. Death happens in isolation and many funeral rituals can’t be performed because there are too many people passing away. But there’s much more to this crisis than numbers and facts. There is a loss beyond words.
In the last three weeks, every Indian person I know has had a family member in India test positive for Covid-19 or have died from it. Having extended family in India myself, a number of people have passed away from the latest outbreak. I’ll try my best to explain why this is so devastating as an Indian living in America.
When we had the worst of our cases in the U.S., I was absolutely terrified of losing the people I loved and knew I had to do my part to keep everyone safe. I stayed indoors for months, limited social interactions, social distanced…etc., yet I knew so many other Americans weren’t taking coronavirus seriously at all. Our cases kept rising, people even went as far as to protest wearing masks and closing down establishments. The entire time, even when America was struggling, I just knew that once vaccines became available, we’d be alright. There’s a layer of protection surrounding America as a First World country. Thus, we have power when it comes to global negotiations for supplies and medicine, we have the privilege to decide how other countries treat us. This is all very confusing for me, personally. Being a woman of color, I honestly don’t feel very American most of the time. I’m certainly not treated as American all the time. But when we’re dealing with issues on a global scale, I realize that I am and it makes me ashamed. The United States is focused on vaccinating Americans to a point of stock-piling and withholding supplies from India, which only exacerbates the government corruption already taking place in India. I can’t wrap my head around how the country I’m living in can refuse help to India.
There is a sense of entitlement, and we often see it happen. Whenever there is a crisis in another country, including: the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis or the attacks in Palestine; we see the neglect that these issues are treated within American politics. They’re tragedies happening in faraway countries, since they ultimately have very “little” impact on American life. It may be true for some, but this entire mentality discards the number of diverse communities that exist in the U.S., they also make this country what it is today. The disregard is not only painful to internalize but incredibly dangerous to people abroad who could use America’s help in crises yet they are “othered” from the beginning. It’s devastating how, by distancing ourselves from the struggles of other people, America is putting up a divide between different communities right in this country.
On an interpersonal level, it affects the way minority groups see the countries that they’re from. It’s like a constant cycle of feeling guilty and reconciling for all the things you’re afforded as an American but cannot send abroad. But here’s the reality I’ve been hit with in the past week:
I have to do whatever I can to help.
India isn’t a country that needs to be saved, it’s a country full of people who are trying to live through this horrendous pandemic just like us. Why can’t we move past all the politics and just help end this virus worldwide? These last few weeks have made me look at my family differently: I hear them grieving in a language I can hardly understand. And no words in English can ever mean the things I want to say. But I’ll be praying that that things get better while reaching out to organizations that can help residents of India directly.
*A few orgs to donate can be found here.