Thoughts In A Quarantine: The Essential Part Of Being Essential

Imma admit this to y’all. I think that essential is one of those coded words. Just like females, just like ‘Blacks’, just like saying ‘those people.’

Essential is a class-based term and you can’t tell me otherwise! There is a bitterness in that title. There is a suspicion in that, and it feels like there is this whole underclass which should and has remained unseen: to be and remain unimportant.

My thing with this title, with this identifier as essential, means you weigh one occupation higher than another. I mean, a truck driver is no more important than the doctor. The nurse is no more important than the janitor at the school where all the kids in the district go! I don’t like the word essential—especially in the context of this pandemic. And the pandemic has shown just how class based and elitist this country truly is. Nothing brings out ignorance more than mass hysteria.

Since this pandemic started about 6 months ago, there has been this almost gladiator-type pitting against people in professions. The more stores, factories or industries closed, the more talk about ‘front line workers’ dominated the media and its sound bites. The more people seemed to look down on folk who didn’t go to college or didn’t have savings. Or those who were frightened out of their minds because utilities, bills, and rent were still due as they were always due each month! In the ‘greatest nation in the world’, there are still folk that have to and do live paycheck to paycheck!

It bears repeating!

Paychecks are still essential in the pandemic! Schools are still essential in the pandemic! Working a job is still essential in the pandemic!
Taking care of a family is a frontline job! There are women whom I know that had to work a job and a half in order to survive. And the killer part? Literally the killer part? The virus is more virulent in nursing homes! You know where most essential workers work at? Service jobs! You know where most nursing aides/patient care technicians pick up extra hours? Nursing homes! And as much as this Orange Idiot wants to lie, there is still a lack of supplies that we need to take care of these people whom no one else wants to! Or can! Or have to be rehabbed before they can go back home! Yet, the people whom are deemed essential can’t even get all the stuff they need essentially to do a job deemed essential!

See how crazy this is?

And the protests happening? This is just a whole tantrum for people whom have no idea what it is like to just be in a house, or be told no. You cannot tell people what they cannot do and then expect them to do what you want them to do; mind-reading is not on the inside of these N-95 masks.

Any job you have, that you have applied to, and they pay you, is not non-essential. The only thing that differentiate me from someone else whom is ‘not essential’ is the arena my job is in. Yet, it is no less dangerous than a barber, a janitor, a mail worker, or a nail tech. I get that these things require close contact and that, that cannot happen right now. It cannot happen because 75,000 (plus) people have died since this pandemic has swept through the States. The protests are counter productive because all they do is create hotspots and new cases of the virus. There is nothing wrong with sitting home, but trust me I GET the rush to get back ‘to normal’. But the old normal ain’t safe no more. And no one wants to hear that, because common sense in a time where cats are fighting over toilet paper, is not essential.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts In A Quarantine: The Essential Part Of Being Essential

  1. I’m from the UK so a slightly different context to yours but I agree completely with what you’ve said about essential being a coded word which is a reference to one’s class status and value in society. It is so frustrating that for those now deemed ‘essential’, they have only now been valued when they have been forced onto the front lines and putting their own health on the line. I did a similar post on the topic in a British context a few weeks ago- here’s the link if you’d like to take a look:


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