Obvious need for food and shelter

by E. Faye Williams

(TriceEdneyWire.com)—I remember watching late-night television ads that solicited donations for inhabitants of foreign countries trapped in misfortune and suffering the deprivation of what could only be called fundamental human necessities—adequate food and clean water.  My stomach would churn, and my heart would ache every time I saw the depiction of malnourished children with distended stomachs and swarms of flies circling and landing on/in their mouths and nostrils.

Anyone who has taken Psychology 101 or who is familiar with the science of human behavior has, at least, a passing familiarity with Abraham Maslow’s theory of The Hierarchy of Needs.  Although not a believer in absolutes related to human behavior, I recognize the validity of certain theoretical predictions.  I only mention Maslow because at the foundation of his theory is the “common human need” for acquiring and maintaining basic physiological needs (e.g. air, water, food, and shelter).  Maslow asserts this as the first step in maximizing human potential.  Without these basics, it is difficult (almost impossible) to focus on anything else.

The current COVID-19 Pandemic, or more accurately the government’s inadequate response to it, reminds me of what my good friend Dick Gregory used to say about the state of our union.  “When White America gets the sniffles,” he would say, “Black America suffers with Pneumonia.”  Low-income families and families of color are disproportionately affected by multiple, overlapping issues like lack of affordable housing, social isolation, chronic or acute health problems, high medical costs, and low wages.  COVID has impacted our complete existence with, for many, immeasurable effect upon food security and shelter.

In our society, those who live through a 24-hour period without their stomachs aching from hunger are truly blessed.  While Conservatives (Republicans) in the US Senate, through inaction, demonstrate their lack of concern as underserved and ignored communities of color move closer to a disaster equal to the late-night ads referred to earlier.  Anyone questioning that statement only has to turn-on the television to see the miles-long lines of cars waiting at food distribution centers across the nation.

If food insecurity is not bad enough, the COVID crisis has created the additional problem of increased homelessness.  Under the government’s initial CARES Act, eviction protections were instituted to provide financial protections to support tenants and landlords.  These CARES provisions expired on July 25, 2020 but have been replaced by state or local moratoria that are typically based on the type of property financing.  Unfortunately, most of these moratoria expire on December 31, 2020 and open the door to mass evictions.

One must ask, what type of people would allow our nation to devolve into a Pandemic-driven wasteland and why?  One answer was given as Mitch McConnell allowed the HEROES bill, approved in the House of Representatives in May, to languish on his desk for over seven months without a counteroffer.  Another answer was given as I watched Mitch McConnell chuckle with glee as the plight of the needy was described in his Senate debate.  It was reiterated in the McConnell Stimulus Plan that offered no relief to individual citizens.  It was reinforced by reports from numerous news analysts stating that the Republican Senate rejects any additional stimulus.  These rejections of the impoverished persist as massive tax relief is provided the wealthy.  The bottom-line answer: THEY DON’T CARE!!!

Regrettably, it appears as politicians responsible for protecting the masses have been lulled into inaction by the belief that the poor will “suffer through it.”  They have discounted the emotional and financial pain and suffering concurrent with this pandemic.  I doubt that Americans of any background or race will stand idly by and watch their children suffer in hunger and without shelter.

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is National President of the National Congress of Black Women.)

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