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Coronavirus & Racism: Emphasizing Solidarity as a Tool for Sustainable Development

The past few months have been cold and depressing for me as I follow the discussions that have swirled around two important subjects: Coronavirus and the killing of the unarmed black man, George Floyd. In all these issues, I have noted one particular theme that is consistent and deserves commendation: a phenomenal level of solidarity.

I so well understood the seriousness of the outbreak when the WHO declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on 30th January 2020. It was certainly an international concern that was bringing double trouble: the trouble of every government controlling the spread of the virus and at the same time meeting the economic demands of its people.

Nonetheless, the news sent a notice to everybody, civil societies, religious groups, and the rest that the time has come for them to dedicate every fiber of their being to saving and improving lives. Researchers across the globe began involved in collaborations to test experimental treatments for the pandemic. Governments and the relevant partners in the fight against coronavirus began receiving donations from organizations, both private and public, ranging from PPEs, cash, to meals. Others have devoted their time to educate people on the symptoms and safety measures. Indeed, what has been described as the greatest challenge of our age would need the greatest form of solidarity.

But social distancing protocols did not get to be over before we witnessed the appalling killing of the black American George Floyd that prompted millions of people across the world to take to the streets (and online) to erupt several protests.  These people stand the chance of contracting the deadly virus but they say the health impact of racism and brutality is far greater. it had been Breonna Taylor the other time. They would, therefore, spare no effort to ensure that there is not only justice but an end to racism. Their pain and anger has can be felt in the phrase “black lives matter”. Indeed.

The power of solidarity has been a lesson I have learned during this period. While December 20 is observed as the International Human Solidarity Day, I believe that the date is our biggest reminder that there is a purpose for us to build our movement, and to strengthen our mutual care and concern for justice every single day. Solidarity remains crucial to ensure and protect the dignity of humanity, especially in this time of growing inequality and other global challenges. What I have learned is that the mutual collaboration that exists among individuals is what would let us overcome the difficult situations and I can only imagine the results we would find if the same level of solidarity is applied in all areas that need real change.

My name is Nana Afia Tenkoramaa and I believe that whether we are confronting a pandemic, racism, or gender-based violence, solidarity defines how we get through it. Solidarity makes us become part of something beyond ourselves, something larger and something greater and it is the flame inside every human being and that we got to keep lit.