White People, Why Are You Violating Social Distancing Orders?

Because your freedom matters more than humanity, that’s why.

White People, Why Are You Violating Social Distancing Orders?
Photo by: Kevin Curtis on Unsplash

I live in an upper-middle class community of predominantly White and White Hispanic families, and many are having a hard time dealing with the quarantine here in South Florida. I go out when I need to for groceries or to ship stuff for work, but mostly I stay indoors because I see White people all over the place doing willy-nilly, necessary shit. The kind of shit you do because they’re not accustomed to being free and not being confined.

White folks are doing shit like walking around freely in my uppity subdivision as if they are at Disney World, oblivious to the invisible danger called Covid-19 spreading throughout our communities, snatching lives and taking no prisoners.

The people in my neighborhood are walking their entire families down the sidewalk past other families without practicing social distancing. I’m checking my mailbox yesterday, and I see five teenage White girls riding their bikes in a single file line. They were yelling to each other as they whizzed down the sidewalk. Low flowing hair blowing through the breeze as if there is nothing going on in America. Not one teen had their faces were covered. I wondered to myself if they or their parents had traveled anywhere outside of the United States as of late, which could have exposed them to Covid-19. A lot of the people here travel to Europe annually on spring break for a week or two and Florida is an international tourist destination, so it’s highly possible anyone around here could have been exposed. White folks in my neighborhood pull their kids from school as if it’s not a big deal to travel abroad in the Spring.

I frowned just thinking about the aerosol sprays heading my way and hurried back to my entrance away from the sidewalk to avoid contact because they didn’t give a shit!

Don’t they realize those aerosol sprays from their busy bodies could fly into the mouths of their friends riding behind them, or into the faces of people like me going to check my mailbox? I scurried into my house like a scared mouse, praying nothing happens to me in the coming weeks. We can’t be too careful, and we really can’t trust people to do the right thing. I have no energy for stupid and selfish people who won’t listen to the county’s shelter in place order these days. Those young girls aren’t essential employees. The young ladies weren’t working on their way to work.

Another pet peeve. The young girls were oblivious of my existence.

Not one of the young girls tried to avoid coming in contact with me. Hadn’t their parents advised them prior to going out? Why are they out in a group together, anyway? The pretty little privileged White children were violating the social distancing rules with no regard for my life.

White Folks Not Practicing Coughing and Sneezing Hygiene

I went to Lowes Home Improvement yesterday to pick up cleaning supplies because grocery stores hardly have any of them in stock these days, and I encountered an entire unmasked White family (mom, dad, 2 kids) not obeying social distance rules or coughing and sneezing etiquette. The father of the family sneezed loudly, twice while talking to his wife, uncovered, making no effort to follow CDC’s guidelines for covering when coughing and sneezing without personal protective equipment. I was fortunately heading their way and saw the entire drama unfolded, so I made a u-turn in the aisle to escape. Thankfully, I was wearing my N95, so I didn’t catch any aerosol sprays he was generously sharing with the Lowes family. I gave him the Black lady death stare as I quickly pushed my cart to check out. Why is it so hard to cover your mouth and do the right thing?

That sneeze confirmed in my spirit why so many of us will die from Covid-19. Folks don’t give a shit about anyone except themselves, especially you sane, privileged White people.

The nasty man didn’t care about my well-being, my health, nor anyone else’s. I didn’t know that man from a coffee cup, and I didn’t know if he had been exposed to the virus at anytime. I must assume everyone is unwell these days. Nasty boots didn’t know if I had any respiratory or pre-existing health issues. Mr. Inconsiderate Macho White guy wanted to sneeze like he didn’t have any home training despite well-publicized best practices, and he did so. Sweet!

Social Distance Me-Not

The other day, my neighbor (I’ll call him Ralph Macchio from the Karate Kid movie because he loves to wear headbands outdoors and basketball socks to his knees), an older White man in the high-risk category, rang my doorbell and stood in my face with no mask to tell me that the Publix near my house would have paper products (i.e. toilet paper) at 8am the next day. I stood at the door looking at him as if he was fucking crazy for what seemed like a solid minute. He must be out of his mind. Toilet paper? Really?

He has my cellphone number. He could have called or texted me. It wasn’t that serious.

Ft. Lauderdale and Broward County has been under a lax stay-at-home order for weeks, and we have many problems here ranging from folks not being able to get tested/strict testing criteria, sick and asymptomatic people getting off cruise ships, contaminated airports, essential store employees don’t have adequate personal protection equipment, and our inept, ill-equipped governor is still allowing visitors to gather on beaches and attend church, but I digress. It seems White people are having a difficult time with the rules meant to not only protect themselves, but the rest of us. I just don’t get it.

How fucking hard is it staying at home, practicing social distancing, and cyberly gathering? Anything else is out of order. Period.

I was traumatized by my neighbor’s toilet paper proclamation. Literally, un-fucking done.

How could my neighbor put my life at risk so casually knowing how deadly Covid-19 is for his age, and for toilet paper no less? Toilet. Paper.

Stupid shit like this is the reason the pandemic will take much longer to end. A lot of White people just don’t get it. They don’t take this highly infectious disease seriously. They don’t value life. And while it’s not just White people out in the streets acting like it’s July fourth, they are the large majority of people I see taking things for granted. Their reckless behavior is influencing others to behave recklessly. Can ya’ll sit the fuck down and stay at home, please, especially if you’re not going to be considerate of other human beings fighting to stay alive.

While I appreciated Ralph Macchio being neighborly (I think) and informing me the toilet paper was being restocked, I couldn’t help but wonder why he had his butt in the streets risking being infected by Covid-19 and not caring whether he spreads it. This is not the time for this kind of fraternizing.

Apparently, nothing will stop Ralph Macchio from exercising his right as a White man to do whatever the fuck he wants to do. He’s not used to being confined, detained without control, and clearly he hates being told what to do even as his life depends on it. He’s defying stay at home orders like it’s nothing, just like so many other non-essential White folks.

I watched him wobble down my sidewalk before I closed the door furiously to gather myself. Breaking rules and defying the government is something I don’t have the privilege of doing. I can only imagine what this feeling must be like. Nothing is worth my life or the lives of my elderly, retired neighbors. Nothing. I became angrier as that day went on.

How could he put himself and my household at risk for toilet paper? He wasn’t being State Farmly, like a good neighbor, staying over there — on his side of the fence.

We’re gonna die, ya’ll.

White people, I know you all are used to being free, having life your way, going where you want to, and doing as you please, mostly. I know you believe deep down in your souls this is the land of the free, home of the brave and by golly no state government’s Executive Order, rule or law will stop you. I know, I know, rules are for other folks, not you. Your resistance is costing lives.

Well, I have some bad news for you folks. Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate unlike White folks.

If you keep skipping around like nothing is going on, eventually, Rona will call your number. I know a lot of White people are accustomed to the government working on your behalf, and no matter what kind of bad choices you make, when it comes to choosing leaders, things usually work out in your favor. You get what you ask for, even if it’s harming non-Whites or upholding inequality.

Welp, as we say in the Black community, “Ya’ll gone learn today,” and White people who don’t think rules apply to you, you shall. You’re going to learn a lesson from this pandemic.

You all are about to get the same lessons we’ve already learned about America, inequality, how unfaithful our government is, and most importantly, how harmful hate and racism is to us all. White people are going to pay a price for condoning, tolerating, enabling, and looking away from racism just like the rest of us.

The wrong people are getting hurt (again), right? Right!

Anything that happens this year will be because White people chose this for us. Don’t act like it’s business as usual. Instead, learn from it. I’m fine with being quarantined because I want to live, but I’m tired of stupid, privileged, and inconsiderate people not following the rules which will make it difficult for us to resume our lives gathering in person one day.

Sit down, especially after using the restroom. Wash your hands. Stay in your homes. Cover your mouths and noses. Practice and respect social distancing. Wear PPE. Assume everyone you don’t know has the virus. Stay in your houses unless it’s absolutely necessary to leave, please!

We Are Fine With Being Quarantined

Most Black folks and people of color are fairing pretty well under the stay at home orders and being quarantined because we’re accustomed to living like this. Social distancing from us stems from slavery. Even today, we can’t gather at work or other mostly White public settings because we know White folks always fear we Blacks are plotting a rebellion or uprising, so gather in small groups or use coded language to aid in preventing the slave owners and gatekeepers from understanding our communications.

We were built for times like these, and our ancestors showed us how to survive the storm. We know how to live with less. We know how to do without. We know how to live isolated and independently. We’re accustomed to excessive measures meant to prevent us from harming others, in particular, scary, fragile White people. We know how to make a way out of no way, and we know how to stay away to protect our family and friends when necessary. White folks are not doing well with this new lifestyle. Welcome to our worlds.

For me personally, being quarantined because of the C word feels very much like being Black in America every day. It feels like segregation. It looks like mostly we’re following the rules and White folks do not. It looks like state’s rights choosing who is free and who is not. It looks like the federal government choosing who lives and who dies. Being quarantined and waiting on the federal government do the right thing feels like Jim Crow.

The government not providing what you need (i.e. masks, ventilators, financial supports, healthcare) feels like a separate and unequal education or the inequality in resource distribution to our communities. It feels like when our local governments and the federal government racially discriminates, only giving certain folks (White) the help they need while the rest of us sit around hoping it trickles down to us. It’s nothing to new to us. It surprises white people while Black folks are looking on as if to say I told you so. Except now the wrong people are getting hurt. See how apathy and indifference work when you use them as tools too long?

Watching White folks flaunt social distancing orders and defy stay-at-home orders is not surprising at all. It’s expected. Your freedom trumps everything, even your own mothers.

I just wonder how many of White people will have to die and how many of them will kill and how many people will they have to infect around them before they understand that your freedom isn’t the most important thing in this world at the moment, or ever?

If you’re White and you want to know on the most minute level what it feels like to be Black in America, fully take part in the quarantine and social distancing orders. You’ll get a taste of what it’s like. And if you get my drift, hopefully when this pandemic is over, you’ll think differently about inequity throughout America.

America will be well when we’re all well, not just when White folks get to move freely again. Your need for freedom is killing us.

Social distancing orders have been put in place for a reason. It’s not a vacation. It’s not family time to roam the streets either.

We’re in the middle of a fucking plague and you all are acting like it’s spring break in Orlando. Sit down. Save your high-risk momma or your sick kid who has yet to be discovered serious pre-existing health issues. Stay home and protect the woman who is forced to go to work because she’s been deemed an essential employee and has no choice except to serve us. Stay home and protect your other ignorant friends, family members and neighbors will take your lead and stay home too. Doing the right thing is as contagious as doing the wrong thing is.

I know you feel smothered, but I really don’t care at this point. This is what life feels like for us every single day, so learn to live the way we do. It’s an invaluable life-skill. I treat this as a teachable moment.

I want you to remember what this moment feels like as long as you live. I also want ya’ll to stay home and practice social distancing. Nothing is out here is worth your life or mines. Nothing will get better until you sit your asses down and stay home. This is something you can take the lead on, and it won’t cost you anything White people. Stay home. They are saying as nicely as they can you’re not following the rules. Do better for so we can live freely again, one-day. The United States and the world will thank you for it later.

Cover your mouths. Wash your hands. Stop standing in the stores talking on your cellphones with your mouths open. Stay inside. Obey social distancing orders. If you’re not deemed essential, stay inside. Keep your kids inside. Help your hard-headed privileged young adults to understand what’s at stake. I would like to live.

Marley K.