To the People Having Beach and House Parties, Your Selfishness Is Showing
Newport Beach on April 25, 2020. Photo: MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

To the People Having Beach and House Parties, Your Selfishness Is Showing

Yes, the weather’s nice…

Last month, when people dragged college students for taking Spring Break trips as the coronavirus was surging, it was hard for me to pile on. Their actions may have been reckless, but they were reflective of the tone set by elected officials at the time — officials who had every reason to know better, but didn’t.

That was then. This is now. With the body count hitting 60,000, we all know that President Trump has failed us in this crisis in every way imaginable. But just because he’s trivializing those deaths, why should the rest of us?

For weeks now, I’ve recognized that while most are staying put, too many people keep going outside. I understand getting stir crazy, especially with the weather getting nice, but where is your mask? Where are your gloves? Why are you just standing on the corner, anyway? Why are you frolicking in the park as if you’re the star of a romantic comedy no one will ever see?

Some people don’t have anywhere to go, but I am speaking of the folks I know have a home. I want to scream, “Bitch, go home!” but fighting on the streets seems counterproductive to the larger mission.

Meanwhile, White people, I hate to generalize, but why do so many of your brethren not seem to believe in the concept of personal space? Please don’t make Whole Foods even more traumatic by causing me to lose both my paycheck and the ability to breathe because you had to get to your beloved Brussels sprouts. Granted, old-ass Black people don’t always grasp the concept either, but to their credit, most move the hell back when you remind them — with the respect they deserve, obviously.

And while I have the attention of Black elders: Why do so many of you refuse to listen to your children? Walmart can wait! Let your kids use Postmates on your behalf! You really can’t tell Black folks that survived Jim Crow to do shit, huh?

I don’t pretend to have behaved perfectly myself. On the other hand, I’m doing the whole social distancing thing the majority of the time. I’m never out without a mask and gloves and it’s only to perform tasks that can’t be handled by delivery. What I’m really not doing, though, is going to the beach as if the entire world ain’t on fire.

This past weekend, some 40,000 people crowded the beaches of Newport Beach in Southern California. I’m no Dr. Fauci, but 40k at the beach means it’s just about impossible to say back-back-back, gimme six feet. Let me remind you Newporters (and shout out to the cat daddies and aunties smoking one right now — cut that shit out, please): Confirmed cases are just that. It’s highly likely that the true number of people who had or have Covid-19 is a significant multiple of the 2,000-plus cases your county has actually counted. If you think no one at that beach was carrying the virus, then you probably share Mike Pence’s belief that it was a bright idea to tour the Mayo Clinic without a mask to please dear leader. Don’t believe me? Orange County’s biggest number of new cases in a single day came the day after that viral photo was taken. This thing is still out there — and if y’all keep throwing caution to the wind, infections may surge all over again, compromising all the progress California has made with its stay at home order.

Governor Gavin Newsom, who is arguably doing a lot better than Governor Cuomo as both a pandemic handler and a political bae, said of the nationwide outrage the images sparked: “Those images are an example of what not to see, what not to do if we’re going to make the meaningful progress that we’ve made in the last few weeks extend into the next number of weeks. The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order.”

For those that have asked me recently why I won’t consider running for office now, it’s because I would want to curse constituents out in ways Newsom cannot. Newsom is effectively saying we are almost finished with the beginning of this ongoing nightmare in which we might be able to get outside a little bit, but y’all are fucking it up by acting like it’s Spring Break.

In other words, we’re living in a parable and too many of y’all refuse to learn the lessons.

Texas has partially reopened, as many others are about to — and while my home state isn’t as crazy as Georgia for opening gyms at a time like this, more folks are going to suffer if not die over the selfishness, the greed, and the impatience of state leadership. It’s one thing for Republican governors leading working-class folks to their deaths largely because they don’t want to pay them unemployment for fear they get the idea of advocating for a livable wage, but it’s another for so many to go out of their way to lead their own death marches.

Yet, there is the inconvenient, haunting truth: Some of us can afford to take greater risks than others.

A new statewide poll conducted by Siena College found that while nearly half of New York City voters knew of someone that died of the coronavirus, that number only told part of the story: 74% of White voters said they did not know someone who died from the coronavirus, but only 48% of Black voters and 52% of Latino voters said the same.

Last weekend, as I saw all these White people in the OC working on their sunburns, I also saw footage of Black folks at house parties. Y’all all might die, but we all know which demo is getting treated better in media coverage.

If you happen to be Black, living in America, and have a Facebook account, I imagine that you, like me, at any given moment of any given day, will see someone mourning the death of someone taken down by Covid-19.

There’s no question that some of these deaths are people who couldn’t stay home: health care providers, transit employees, and others deemed “essential workers.” But many of those deaths are people who wouldn’t stay home. They had to see family members they could have FaceTimed. They insisted on going to church, or stores, to do and get things they in all likelihood could have waited for. They do any and everything else they had no business doing.

Last weekend, as I saw all these White people in the OC working on their sunburns, I also saw footage of Black folks at house parties. Y’all all might die, but we all know which demo is getting treated better in media coverage.

Take the story of schoolteacher Rana Zoe Mungin, who on Monday tragically passed at the age of 30 — from racism as much as the virus. As Erin Clare Brown wrote at The Appeal, Mungin sought medical attention for Covid-19 three times, only to have her concerns dismissed like so many other Black people. On one occasion, the EMTs who arrived at her apartment when she called 911 were convinced that her breathing difficulties were a panic attack … and left without taking her to the hospital.

Mungin did the right thing and the system still failed her. Deaths like hers are happening all over this country, and they should be compelling each of us to place even more gravity to the severity of the situation at hand.

Again, I am not wagging my finger in judgment or pretending I’ve embodied perfection. What I am saying, though, is if you are Black, more likely than not, this virus can and will kill you if it gets to you — for reasons more related to racism than our health.

If none of this is convincing enough, I do wonder if y’all aren’t tired at least driven by exhaustion to hold on a little longer and deal.

Because I am tired.

Of the sirens.

Of the mask.

Of the hunt for food you actually want to eat.

Of struggling to function.

Of feeling so sad for everyone taking to the internet to express agony over losing someone they love.

Of my own fears that I or someone I love is next.

That’s what makes me most frustrated if not sad about all of this. You would think that after all the death and suffering, more people would be less inclined to not only not gamble with their own health, but try not to put other folks at risk. Instead, they’re at beaches, and they’re partying. Still.

I don’t have the stamina to stay so stupid and selfish for so long. I hoped that most would recognize that when it comes to containing the virus, we were in this together and needed to collectively sacrifice accordingly. But so many people refuse to tighten up.

We all have to fend for ourselves, which means a lot of us are going to suffer as a result. It reminds me of every damn doomsday movie that I’ve ever seen. I’ll just keep trying to play the part of the one who doesn’t die.