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With all due respect to Governor Cuomo, this virus is not 'the great equalizer'
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At a recent press conference, after his brother Chris was diagnosed with COVID-19, New York governor Andrew Cuomo kept reiterating two sentiments: "We're all in this together," and "This virus is the great equalizer."

I understand the sentiment. I've said and written the "We're all in this together" line several times myself over the past few weeks.


And in one sense—an important sense—it's true. This pandemic is impacting the entire planet like nothing we've seen in our lifetimes. No one is untouched by it in some way. Anyone, rich or poor, can get sick and die from this virus. In that sense, it unites us as human beings, and I hope it will awaken us to our essential oneness.

But Cuomo was wrong on the second point. The fact that this is an equal opportunity virus doesn't make it "the great equalizer." The coronavirus pandemic doesn't equalize anything. In fact, it merely highlights and magnifies our existing inequalities.

I've been thinking lately about the sinking of the Titanic. Those 2,240 passengers and crew members were on that boat together. Everyone was a part of the fear and the tragedy as it sank.

They were all in it together. No one escaped the terror. They were all touched by it.

But they were not touched by it equally.


Gov. Cuomo seized the historical moment with a rousing speech to the National Guard: This is a 'rescue mission'assets.rebelmouse.io


Passengers aboard the Titanic ranged from some of the wealthiest people on Earth to third-class steerage passengers, who were mainly working-class immigrants. And during the voyage, the third-class passengers had to stay in their designated area of the ship, which was gated off from the top three decks where the wealthier passengers hung out. Ship stewards could open the steerage gates in an emergency, but otherwise, they stayed closed.

In the chaos of the ship sinking, some of those gates never got opened, which prevented some third-class passengers from getting to the deck with the lifeboats. Those folks drowned trapped in their assigned place, the only place they could afford, without even a fighting chance of survival.

The fact that they were "all in it together" didn't change the structures in place before the tragedy—structures that directly impacted their fate on that ship.

Of course, as we know, there weren't enough lifeboats for all of the passengers anyway. Barely half, in fact. Having an adequate number of lifeboats would have made the first-class top deck look "cluttered," which the wealthy ship owner didn't want for his wealthy passengers. Besides, the ship was supposed to be "unsinkable."

And so it was that the economic inequality clearly delineated in the ship's voyage played out in its sinking as well.

Because they were already on the upper decks, wealthy passengers got to the lifeboats first. Some were lowered into the ocean and rowed away from the ship before their boats were even full.

Despite the standard "women and children first" rule of saving people at sea, 52 out of the 79 children from third-class died in the sinking—about the same percentage as first-class men.

Overall, 61% of first-class passengers, 42% of second-class passengers, and 24% of third-class passengers survived.

Some might say, "Well of course fewer third-class passengers survived—they were farther from the lifeboats," and that's exactly the point. The wealthier passengers had an advantage from the get go. The poorer passengers had farther to go, and some of them were cut off completely.

The Titanic passengers were all in that boat together, but that didn't mean they were equally impacted by its sinking. And we will see the same impact of inequality play out in this pandemic as well.

It's true that wealthy people aren't immune from the virus, and some will die. But they still have an advantage from the start. Wealthy folks have access to the best medical care and the ability to afford it. For goodness knows what reason, the wealthy appear to be able to get tested for the virus even without showing symptoms, while the average American has a hard time getting a test unless they are ICU-level ill.

Poor people are starting at a disadvantage, as they are a) more likely to have underlying health conditions, b) less likely to seek medical help early over fears of not being able to afford it, and c) more likely to work in the vital-but-low-paying service industries we are now relying on to feed us, keep our grocery stores and hospitals clean, and transport our food and garbage, putting them at higher risk of exposure.


Wealthy nation offers concrete rectangles to people without homes during pandemic Shaun King/Instagram


So yeah. We're all in this together. But that doesn't change the fact that our vast economic inequality means this pandemic will affect people differently. This will be true both here in the U.S.—where 1 in 9 Americans in our "booming" economy were living below the poverty line—and around the world, where 1 in 3 do.

We learned from the Titanic that disasters don't play out equally, even if they impact everyone. We will learn the same thing with this crisis, and with every tragedy that follows until we make some fundamental changes in our economic systems.

If we want to claim that we're all in this together, let's make sure we have enough lifeboats for everyone and do something about the gates that keep people trapped in the lower decks before this ship sets sail again. Since we've clearly hit an iceberg and will need to rebuild the economy anyway, perhaps we can purposefully build it in a way that works for all, not just those on top.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via LinkedIn

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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