- Programming note: Watch "Race in America: A Candid Conversation" on Friday, March 19 at approximately 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area after the conclusion of "Warriors Outsiders."
The search for global peace and love has been futile throughout human existence, with those most dedicated to the pursuit often falling victim to the violence they decry. Which begs a simple question: What will it take to unite us all?
That eternal mystery surely has been studied by many over the years, on this day many years ago it rolled off the tongue of a curious little girl in Southern California.
She asked it of her father, whose reply seemed simultaneously rational and unlikely.
His answer: When there is an alien threat, or at least the perception of one.
Reasonable, eh? Yeah, that would band us together. One thing all humans share, besides mortal presence, is the planet Earth. Any threat to it is a threat to all of us.
Then in December 2019 came the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, quickly identified as a global threat.
“When we first got wind of this pandemic,” that girl, now an accomplished woman, says decades later, “my immediate thought was ‘Well, maybe this is the common threat, the common enemy, that would unite the world.’
“And boy oh boy, was I wrong. And am I so disappointed to be wrong.”
The speaker is CBS Sports Analyst and former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask, who as a curious child brought the question to her father, Marv, all those years ago. Trask and 49ers reporter Keiana Martin were panelists in a discussion of racial/ethnic angst on “Race in America: A Candid Conversation,” seen Friday night on NBC Sports Bay Area.
The response to the pandemic depended on national governments, some of which consolidated to form a workable plan. The response in the United States was stand alone. To deny, deemphasize and demonize.
Even with thousands dying every day, the virus was politicized, sowing division and despair, eventually bringing an altogether different virus.
Though it is not known where this particular coronavirus originated, it was first detected in Wuhan, China before quickly making its way around the globe. With former President Donald Trump and his sycophants frequently referring to it as the “China Virus” or worse, Asians were blamed and demeaned. How could this be construed as anything other than malicious?
So, naturally, that begat violence and derision, directed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. There have been, from coast to coast, brutal unprovoked attacks, even cowardly blindside punches, many to elderly men and women.
Several of my friends from the AAPI community, going back to last summer, have admitted to being alarmed and harboring feelings of fear for themselves or those they loved.
Former NBA player Jeremy Lin, who spent six weeks in Florida with the G League with the Santa Cruz Warriors, was targeted for hateful insults on the court. During a game. From an opposing player.
That barely registers with the outbreak of beatings, much less the mass shooting this week in metropolitan Atlanta.
Eight people died in a hail of bullets, six of them Asian American women.
So, now we have good people trying to dam the flood of race-based violence. We have multicultural groups of entertainers coming together to condemn these assaults. Hate crimes against Asian-Americans have increased 19-fold over the last 12 months.
“I really believed that this virus could unite us,” Trask says. “The virus doesn’t care about our race, our gender, our ethnicity, our religion, our nationality or any other differences. The virus just wants to eat us. And I thought that this is a moment in time where the whole world could unite.”
If we can’t come together nationally, much less internationally, to fight a pandemic, how on earth, literally, are we going to come together to defeat viral hatred of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion and sexuality?
Maybe our only chance to unify is in the event of an alien invasion. Given how so many of us have been overtaken by hate, even that is no sure thing.