In this Blog, we pour our thoughts and ideas on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people all over the world. We are 10 international students of the winter semester 2020 course 'Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Condition' taught by Prof. Nadia Fadil at KU Leuven:
Jessica, Linda, Melanie, Esin, Karine, Ximena, Irina, Thu, Raad and Ekene.
Lately, we have been thinking a lot about how race had and still has an impact on different people in the world, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We concluded and agreed on the fact that race is emerging as a class through the pandemic. Our final research question for this blog hence is the following:
How does race emerge as a class in a pandemic?
This question guided us throughout discussions and the process of writing. Some of the articles stick more to it than other, however, you will find its answer in all of the articles provided to some extend.
What have we learned from the process of making this Blog?
Covid-19 has been an intimate experience for all of us. The limitations it has imposed upon our lives, reaching as far as to prohibit us from expressing our affection through the proximity of our bodies, quickly became the "new normal." The impotence, frustration, depression, and other feelings built up through almost a year of learning to be humans through a cell phone or laptop screen. However, besides our internal battle with loneliness or "incarceration," the pandemic showed us how deep the wounds of poverty, racism, labor exploitation, educational gaps, and others are. This world crisis made more transparent and more present than ever how uneven is the world around us. For our group, it also expressed an opportunity to unravel and unveil the structures that hold such antagonist impacts of the pandemic.
This process has shown me the temporality of bias in disease control and health care, illuminating how the deep-seated and systemic racial bias present across all entities (especially in the Global North) is not a recent issue and affects all areas of life.
The process has reconfirmed my knowledge on how racial bias has been reproduced through time and is still an almost unyielding force that is so deeply embedded into the economic systems of the world that unentangling one from the other completely seems almost a utopian dream.
I gained profound insight into the conditions and operations of two pandemics throughout my working process. What left a lasting impression on me was that although the handling of the Spanish Influenza was accompanied by the exclusion of minorities, similar grievances have occurred throughout the Covid-19 pandemic as well.
My article's work has shown me with data and numbers that still People of Color experience greater financial insecurities due to the long history of employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and residential segregation. The current crisis made the situation even worse. Governments of different countries should create some policies to help people of color and their families to get through the current crisis.
During this project, I realized that the problems now visible in the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties faced especially by People of Color, are actually not new. They mainly affect populations that have already been disadvantaged in the past by a hierarchy created by predominantly white people.
Working on my articles has allowed me to deepen my understanding of the social and interpersonal impact that the coloniality of power has had on constructing our urban spaces and knowledge generation. The racial matrices that underlie our social relations allow us to understand the pandemic's behavior in terms of its lethality and levels of spread, as well as its consequences on the impoverishment of specific population groups.
The experience during the pandemic truly affected my racial awareness as an international student. I can fathom the struggles of different communities, which are further intensified by various factors. More importantly, digitalization as a solution is also contributing to perpetuating racial divide and stereotypes.
The pandemic shone a light on the mobility freedom that we all take for granted and also highlighted the racial inequalities within mobility. I had never considered the racial implications of simply traveling abroad that intricately prior to the pandemic. Especially as an international student, a status that (supposedly) grants us more freedom within our mobility has been impeded, and exploring the pandemic through a racial perspective has been a learning process for me.
The different approaches that were elaborated in this course to think about and examine race have been very enriching. The structural foundations of racial inequality in our capitalist society and its historicity were especially transformative to my thinking. The angle of the pandemic's impact on the positions and experience of racial groups unveiled this even more.
The reactions that greeted the Covid-19 situation in Africa have once again brought up the question about our equal humanity. Covid-19 has shown us that knowledge matters but what matters the most is the racial profile of the source of such knowledge.