I think it safe to say that Covid-19 has shaped the way we interact and think about our day-to-day activities. Even though Covid-19 had not affected everyone the same, each person has experienced the changes of Covid-19 in their environments. For some neighborhoods the change is merely making sure that residents are socially distancing while walking their pet and for other neighborhoods the changes may include food insecurities. In this blog, I would like to discuss the changes that Covid-19 has had on my life and the lives around me. One of the larges impacts that Covid-19 has had in my community is the lack of access to fresh food nearby. Prior to the pandemic, my family made trips to Kroger as it is the closest affordable grocery store. But when the pandemic happened it was hard for my family and families in my community to grocery shop because shelves were empty.
Let’s travel back one year; shelves were empty, toilet paper was a commodity and sanitizer was valued as gold. The pandemic alarmed many of us and in some ways, we went into survival mode. But what about those that did not have the access to go to affordable grocery stores to buy necessities? I am fortunate to have a working vehicle in my household, but many families do not have this luxury. I am going to share a story that is a constant reminder of racism in our country.
I was on the way to the grocery store to buy milk, cheese, bread and lunch meat. Items that are simple, affordable, and go a long way on a budget. I chose to go to Walmart because of their affordable prices for the quantity I was looking for. When I go to the grocery store, I tend to pick up items for the elderly in my neighborhood because they do not have an efficient way of transportation. On this particular day, I noticed shelves were scarce. I was aware of news coverage mentioning the shortage of grocery items, but if I am honest, I did not believe them. That was the first mistake. My goodness! I had never seen anything like it. It resembled the time when people thought the Apocalypse was coming! I was a nervous wreck, what am I going to do now? I bought the last of the bread that was available, canned meat options and cheese. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness that reminded me of the condition of my own neighborhood. I went several miles away to get food, but I was unable buy all the items I needed. So, we can only imagine families that do not have transportation to markets for household products.
The food insecurities in my neighborhood are contributed to gentrification. Gentrification is a product of systemic racism in America. In class were discussed redlining and the affects it had on communities. Redlining was more than segregation, it was an insurance policy. What I mean is, it insured that families would not have adequate housing because of loan denial, poor transportation and a limited food supply. Black residents have experienced this type of mistreatment for generations that sadly when the pandemic first erupted, families in my neighborhood did not rush to panic because they are used to living without or depending on one another until they are able to reach a grocery store.
In closing, the emptiness of shelves was symbolization of people that have access to transportation, money and dispensable time to buy food. It should serve as a reminder that there are people in our city that did not have the opportunity to buy their necessities in their own neighborhoods. I believe Covid-19 made us all stop for minute from the mundaneness of our daily lives to empathize for others. It made us pay attention to others that we may have been overlooking. In ways it unified us in tragedy. Because for one second a lawyer could relate to a custodian because Covid-19 had taken a loved one. That is the importance of humanity. To realize that our lives are all interconnected at least by one factor-death. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of people very close to us and it is a time that we will never forget. But my hopes are that our experiences lead us to look at a neighbor with love, compassion and empathy because we are not as different as we think we are.