There’ve been some studies suggesting that many Americans that were on unemployment benefits with the old amount (which included the $600 a week enhanced unemployment benefits)—maybe even close to 70% of Americans on unemployment benefits—were receiving more money from their benefits than from the jobs they used to hold. That seems to be why the matter of unemployment benefits became such a contentious debate.
Those advocating for less generous unemployment benefits during COVID believed that the issue was with the benefits being way too large, to the point of potentially dissuading some from seeking work. I’d argue, though, that the issue is misdiagnosed—the issue is that so many employers are so outrageously cheap that the bar for “generosity” has been set so low.
Consider the fact that an American on unemployment benefits was receiving, on average, $921 a week. That amounts to $47,892 if you extend that for an entire 52-week year—an amount still low enough that it would not cross the threshold to a living wage for a family of three in even the most affordable states in America. In other words, individuals were (on average) receiving less than the equivalent of a living wage, and that was still more generous than what most Americans on unemployment benefits were receiving from their previous employers. Considering that fact, the issue is that most employers of these former employees did not think their employees were worth enough to pay them a living wage, so that employees can easily afford rent, groceries, utilities, and many other basic items. Full stop.
The systemic issues that have led to such low wages for so many Americans may take years, if not decades, to address (if they get addressed). In the interim though, we should stop saying that unemployment benefits were “too generous”—instead, many former employers were not generous enough.
I haven’t shared another blogger’s post on here in some time, but I think the post I have here today is worth sharing.
I think it’s important to elevate the voices of people in populations most vulnerable to the virus. Therefore, I thought it was important to share a post that Jackie at Disability & Determination wrote a few days ago about the consequences of overwhelmed hospitals for people with disabilities. I’m not going to spoil her blog post, but they are immense, and in many cases, deadly. I am sharing a link to her blog post as well as her blog below.
The above is a common refrain I’ve heard while the United States has grappled with the coronavirus.
I agree with the sentiment—I think our health workers should be supported. However, I also recognize that all too often, this refrain does not turn into action. Often, we say “support our health workers” but then act in ways that show anything but support for our health workers.
But how can we support our health workers? I propose a few suggestions:
If you aren’t doing so already, wear a mask or some other protective face covering and practice social distancing. These two actions are widely proven to contain the spread of the coronavirus. If people performed these two actions, we would keep our health workers from becoming overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
Assess the needs of the health workers where you live, and act accordingly. Speaking as someone who witnessed how difficult things were with the coronavirus in New York City, the needs of health workers were varied—at one point it included everything from equipment to food to funds for childcare. I can’t speak for what the needs are of health workers in places like Miami or Houston, but I strongly urge you to assess the needs of health workers where you live and act accordingly.
If there are murmurs of a hospital closing down near where you live, do all you can (within reason) to protest the closure. There is a great deal of concern about the financial strain that many hospitals are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. As such, there is also concern about the potential of hospitals closing. The closure of hospitals would put more strain on the hospitals that remain, and therefore the health workers who remain. As such, I urge readers to protest any proposed hospital closures in your area.
Support legislative efforts to reduce the financial burdens that our health workers have. From current childcare costs to past student loan costs, there are a multitude of financial burdens that many of our health workers have to deal with. Given the stresses involved with trying to deal with the pandemic, we should try to minimize other sources of stress, such as financial burdens. This is where I would recommend actions such as urging your member of Congress to support legislation to forgive student loan debts for frontline health workers during COVID-19.
If you have a friend who is a health worker, listen to what they have to say. Don’t blow off your friend. Don’t minimize the experiences your friend had. Just listen to them.
These are just a handful of ways that you can support our health workers during COVID-19. Are there other ways we should consider supporting health workers? If so, please leave a comment below!
 I understand that some people have a difficult time with masks for health reasons. However, for many, there are other types of face covering, such as face shields, that may work better for you than a face mask.
Some terms are criticized as social justice jargon. However, many of these terms are important to know about and understand. One such term is white guilt.
Dictionary.com offers a concise definition of white guilt: it is “the feelings of shame and remorse some white people experience when they recognize the legacy of racism and racial injustice and perceive the ways they have benefited from it.” While it sounds well-intended in certain ways—after all, it recognizes racism and injustice and ways white people like me have benefited from it—white guilt can also be extremely problematic in certain ways.
But why can white guilt be problematic?
The problem is that in many cases, feelings of shame and remorse can be so great that they prevent one from doing anything about the racism and racial injustice that’s so upsetting to begin with. While it is important to recognize racism and racial injustice around you, especially if you recognize some of the ways it benefits you, it’s counterproductive to be so upset about those systems of injustice that you feel unworthy of playing your part as an ally in the larger effort to ensure that Black lives matter. After all, the goal is not to wallow in guilt, but to turn the recognition of injustice into anti-racist action.
It’s also worth noting that one of the criticisms I often hear of white guilt is that white guilt doesn’t turn into white action. That’s something to be conscious of, if you, like me, are white. It’s important to be conscious of the fact that it’s not enough to simply recognize how racial injustice benefits you, nor is it enough to feel guilty about how racial injustice benefits you. Instead of simply recognizing how racial injustice benefits you (or even feeling guilty about that), donate to and/or volunteer for racial justice organizations, attend Black Lives Matter marches (while practicing mask-wearing and social distancing, of course), vote for candidates who have an extensive platform on racial justice, and educate your own friends about the systems of racial injustice you’ve noticed yourself, among other things. In doing these activities, however, please note that it’s not about you or about erasing your guilt, but about racial inequality (because for too many people attending a protest march, for example, is about making them look like the “good people”).
In addition to the volunteering, marching, voting, etc., however, I also recommend that people struggling with white guilt should process those feelings with other people who have struggled with white guilt themselves and managed to turn that guilt into racial justice action. While it may be tempting to talk about your white guilt with anyone and everyone to show how “woke” you are, the most productive and healthy way of processing and overcoming white guilt is probably by talking with people who have that shared experience with you.
So, for those who are still struggling with white guilt, I know how you feel. I was there, and I can sometimes still be there. I just hope that you will be able to turn guilt into action, for guilt without action does nothing.
I don’t know how much I’ve shared this on my blog, but one of the sports I follow closely is NASCAR. Yes, the same NASCAR that for the longest time has been stereotyped as a racist southern sport…and backed up those stereotypes with all of the Confederate flags that fans were able to have in the infields of racetracks. It’s also the same NASCAR that made national news when it announced a long-overdue decision not to allow said flags at NASCAR events.
While NASCAR got positive attention for this, it also ended up in a bit of controversy when news broke that one of its teams was going to have “Trump 2020” on the car for a number of races—something that happened because the Patriots of America PAC (a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump) paid $350,000 to said race team to have “Trump 2020” on the car. I’m sure some Trump supporters were happy to see their candidate’s name on the car (though maybe less so upon finding out that said car has spent most of the season below 25th place in points), but many have pointed out the hypocrisy of advocating for a Confederate flag ban while allowing pro-Trump sponsorship at the races. And frankly, given some of the comments that President Trump has made about matters such as the Confederate flag, Confederate statues, and Black Lives Matter, I can see why someone would think that NASCAR is being hypocritical.
However, I think the debate over “Trump 2020” on a sub-25th place car should expand beyond even whether said sponsor is moral or should be allowed. Namely, we need to have a larger conversation about sports sponsorships and morality—a conversation we don’t have often for whatever reason—because there are quite a few sponsors throughout sports that are morally questionable. And if you think I’m being overly sensitive, consider this breakdown of sponsorships and morals (or lack thereof) in a number of top sports:
Mars: They sponsor the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch. They also have a long-standing reputation of producing chocolate with child labor.
Nike: They are the official supplier of NFL, NBA, and MLB uniforms. They’ve had a history of using sweatshops to produce their apparel and are now linked to the use of forced labor.
Caesars Entertainment: The NFL has an official casino sponsor in Caesars Entertainment. Gambling is also an addiction that can and has ruined people’s lives.
Adidas: Adidas has a $700 million deal with Major League Soccer, and they are also linked to accusations of forced labor. Like Nike, Adidas has a history of sweatshop use.
Red Bull: They’re everywhere. They sponsor numerous soccer/football teams, a Formula One team, and more. Energy drinks can also be harmful for one’s body.
This is not an exhaustive list of sponsors with morals that are questionable, but these are some of the major ones. Still, this short list should give people a sense of how reliant so many major sports are on sponsors such as these. This list shows that it’s an issue much bigger than “Trump 2020” on a race car. It’s also an issue that seems to get ignored in the debates over whether “Trump 2020” should be on a race car to begin with, even though it would be beneficial to include the Trump car in a larger debate on where to draw the line with sports sponsorships and morals.
As to how to tackle this issue with sports and sponsors with questionable morals, I’m not sure. There most certainly is a line that many major sports have drawn with sponsors—otherwise we might still be talking about the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. But as to where exactly that line is drawn, it’s something that needs to really be discussed at-length, because while I wish there wasn’t the need for any of these morally questionable sponsors to begin with, I also realize that if not for the existence of these sponsors, many people would be out of their jobs, out of their livelihoods.
What do you, the reader, think of sports sponsorships and morality? Where do you think the line should be drawn? At which point do you believe a sponsor is morally questionable enough that it should not be allowed in by a sport? You need not be a sports fan to comment below!