Before COVID-19 hit the United States, I was posting about Bowen Family Systems Theory. I described family systems and argued that religious groups operate like family systems. I had listed the eight concepts of Bowen Theory and was explaining them one by one.
I haven’t been posting about Bowen Theory lately. I figured we all had enough new information to absorb about how to stay as safe and sane as possible. Over two months later, we are still living with tremendous anxiety. We keenly feel the absence of rituals and events that mark life’s milestones. We are grieving the loss of family, friends, livelihoods, and communities. We scramble to find masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
We are also seeing that COVID-19 does not treat all people equally. Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) posted in his May 14th blog that the 22 percent of U.S. counties that are disproportionately black accounted for 52 percent of our nation’s COVID-19 cases and 58 percent of COVID-19 deaths. The highest rates of infection in Washington, DC, are in the wards east of the Anacostia River, which are about 90% African American. New York City has seen an increased rate of infections and deaths among the Latino/a population.
In New Mexico, Native American communities have accounted for 60% of cases but only 9% of the population. Similarly, in Arizona, Native Americans make up 21% of deaths in a state where they are just 4% of the population. In South Dakota, Asians account for only 2% of the population but 12% of cases. (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/05/30/865413079/what-do-coronavirus-racial-disparities-look-like-state-by-state)
Communities of color have endured centuries of widespread, untimely and tragic death on American soil. Beginning in 1492, European colonizers brought European diseases to the shores of the “New World.” According to an entry in encyclopedia.com, smallpox, measles, chicken pox, whooping cough, diphtheria, scarlet fever, malaria, typhoid fever, influenza, cholera were unknown among American indigenous peoples before contact with Europeans. Infections from new pathogens ravaged native civilizations for over two centuries.
The insidious disease of racism continues to infect American life. The recent murder of George Floyd shows that black and brown people continue still to suffer and die unjustly and disproportionately 528 years after Columbus landed in his New World. I may not be able to change 528 years of history, but, I can change my story from this point forward. As an ancestor of European colonizers and as a Christian believer, I must name racism as sin and repent of my sin through the grace of God. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, I can live in to a new story.
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one count count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb . . . They cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10