Claudia Walker: The Not-So-Novel Virus

2 min

The pandemic and the nation’s response to it have laid bare some of our enduring, not-so-novel inequities. Claudia Walker has this Perspective.

Social Distancing. We’ve been practicing it for the past several weeks to help flatten the curve of the novel coronavirus.

But social distancing isn’t new. It’s been a long-standing indicator of a malady that’s much deadlier and far more contagious than COVID-19. That disease? Racism.

As a mom and teacher, I believe that a quality education is a human right. But, I also know that despite the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, America’s school systems are still incredibly segregated and painfully unequal.

Like so many, amidst the recent school closures, I’ve become a homeschooling mom. Yet for most of us, the question is “when,” not “if” our children's schools will reopen. The same can’t be said for the tens of thousands of children in cities like Oakland, D.C. and Chicago who experience permanent school closures after years of neglect and under funding. These closures, dictated by zip code, almost exclusively impact poor students of color, while leaving white kids relatively unscathed.

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And speaking of zip codes, although America is one of the most racially diverse countries in the world, you wouldn’t know it by looking at our neighborhoods. Highly segregated, in many ways they are the epitome of social distancing.

While some might insist that we live in a post-racial America where practices like white flight, redlining and discrimination are things of the past, experience tells me otherwise.

It reminds me that progress doesn’t happen overnight. That this race to eradicate racism is a marathon, not a sprint. So I keep running, but constantly checking my GPS because I know that something as seemingly harmless as jogging into the wrong neighborhood could be fatal.

With a Perspective, I’m Claudia Walker.

Claudia Walker is a proud mother of three and lives in Oakland.