The Disney movie “The Sword in the Stone” is a retelling of the legend of King Arthur. At one point, there’s a “magic battle” between the villainous Mad Madam Mim and Merlin the Magician. They turn themselves into various animals as the battle moves along.
At one point, Mim turns herself into a huge, fearsome fire-breathing dragon, violating the rules she and Merlin had agreed to on no mythical creatures. She grabs Merlin, only to see that he has vanished. As she wonders where he want, she hears his voice.
“I haven’t run away,” he said. “I’ve transformed myself into a germ, and you just caught me!”
With that, Mim comes down with a disease that leaves her with spots and chills. The sequence ends with Mim at home, sick in bed with a thermometer in her mouth.
I can’t help but wonder if the writers of this scene were influenced by H.G. Wells’ science-fiction classic, “The War of the Worlds.” Technically advanced Martians invade Earth, and they run roughshod over all of Earth’s mightiest armies and navies. They are done in, however, by Earth microorganisms they had no bodily defenses against.
Wells and the writers of that Disney scene understood an important point: sometimes, it’s not the big and powerful you need to be concerned about. It’s the small and seemingly insignificant.
That’s a point the coronavirus has driven home all too well.
I’ve been reading that the coronavirus has been hitting the African-American community particularly hard. This should come as no surprise. Low-income people are generally getting hit harder by the pandemic, and low-income people make up a greater percentage of African-Americans than other ethnic groups.
This is one of the long-term side-effects of Jim Crow segregation. While no longer the law of the land, the effects of it are still with us today. Jim Crow sought to keep African-Americans at low income levels, and it’s going to take a while to overcome that.
As an example, African-Americans suffer from underlying conditions like obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure than white Americans. Most of this is due to food choices, and it often comes down to what kind of food someone can afford.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many overweight and obese low-income people? It’s because the most affordable and most available foods in America are those that are the starchiest and the most fattening. This is particularly true of inner-city neighborhoods where many African-Americans live. In many of Chicago’s black neighborhoods, it’s said it’s easier to find a gun that it is to find fresh produce.
If you’re a single parent trying to work long hours at a job and you have several children, it’s a lot easier to feed your family by getting something from a fast food outlet, throwing something together out of cans or serving ready-to-eat stuff than it is to plan a healthy, balanced diet.
Low-income people also suffer from poor-quality health care, particularly in inner-city areas. They are less likely to have insurance.
It’s also true that, the lower your income, the less likely you will be able to work from home. You’re also more likely to have a job where you will need to come into contact with a lot of people, whether you practice social distancing or not.
These are points that need to be considered when policies concerning the coronavirus are made. They must take into account the special needs of low-income people of all colors, but especially African-Americans. This could be an opportunity to lift everyone up.
This is something Democrats and Republicans could agree on. For too long, the Democrats have been accused of using and exploiting the poor, while the Republican Party has been accused of wanting to punish America’s poor through their policies. This would be a chance to prove that thinking is wrong.