The Atlanta-area chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is urging its membership to “defy the governor’s” ill-thought-out executive order to end Georgia’s shutdown of specific businesses and government facilities by remaining home for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Brian Kemp announced earlier this week that beauty and barber salons, gyms, tattoo parlors, nail parlors and bowling alleys will be allowed to reopen today, April 24. Restaurants and theaters are to follow suit on Monday.
Interestingly, Kemp’s order has also been panned by Donald Trump who has stated that he “strongly” disagreed with Kemp’s decision. Trump’s “disagreement,” however, comes only one day after both he and VP Pence actually encouraged Kemp to reopen the entire state.
Using social media, the Atlanta NAACP has called for a “Black Out, Sick Out” of heretofore “non-essential” Georgia businesses beginning this morning.
The reckless and unilateral decision of Governor Brian Kemp places at risk communities in direct danger of COVID-19 or coronavirus, wrote the organization. The NCAAP is calling on citizens to push back on Brian Kemp.
And, in a follow-up press release yesterday, the NAACP argued that returning to any workplace at this point is a life-or-death proposition, for such a move would only further spread the already pandemic, deadly disease.
Data shows, said the release, “that black and other non-white Americans have a higher per capita infection rate as well as higher resultant death rate. The overall death rate in Georgia is about 4 % while the death rate of black Covid-19 patients is more than 9%.
In addition to advising members to continue to “shelter in place,” the NAACP also demanded that the state provide more free testing facilities, PPE, contact tracing, and more precautions. The NAACP is also calling for a complete revocation of Kemp’s April 20 executive order.
For his part, Kemp has steadfastly defended his decision in a number of Tweets:
Given the favorable data trends, enhanced testing through Augusta State University and advice of state healthcare leaders, we are taking another measured step forward, wrote the Governor. We remain focused on protecting lives — and livelihoods — in every part of Georgia.
At this writing, proposed protests abound for and against the governor, and are scheduled to coincide with his order’s implementation. Indeed, a rally organized by “Concerned Black Clergy” will take place at Atlanta’s Liberty Square today. And, a “drive-by protest” in front of the governor’s mansion is also scheduled.
However, a group in support of Kemp’s decision is planned, also at the state Capitol, also today. “Reopen GA” will rally at noon and will march around the statehouse’s golden dome.
We are residents of Georgia that stand for The Constitution and demand our officials Reopen GA no later than May 1st, 2020, says the group’s Facebook page. We are losing our small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy. The shutdown is not warranted, nor sustainable for our area. The vulnerable can be isolated or protected in other ways, without sacrificing our entire state economy.
The NAACP is the oldest and largest civil rights organization in this nation-state. As reflected in its Mission Statement since its founding forty-four years following the official end of slavery, it has championed human and civil rights, and sought,
…to secure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and wellbeing of all persons.
The NAACP’s primary emphasis, of course, has been and remains on the never-ending challenges faced by black people throughout this American body politic. Since 1909, at every crisis point and on every crucial issue and matter faced by black people, the NAACP has been there to confront, to challenge, and yes, to demand fairness, equality and justice for America’s former slaves and their descendants.
I will not recount the NAACP’s long list of successes throughout its111-year history. That record is easily accessible, well documented, and well known.
But it is safe to say that this current crisis, this COVID-19 crisis, may be the most serious challenge to the organization since its founding. That is because this pandemic is nothing less than an existential threat to the very lives of every single black person in this country.
The Georgia Governor’s decision to reopen beauty and barber shops, nail salons, tattoo parlors, restaurants, etc., for example, are among the very few successful small and medium-sized businesses wherein blacks have managed a tenuous foothold, especially in America’s big cities, Atlanta included.
As many others have noted, there is no way to maintain proper “social distancing” in such businesses.
But, perhaps that’s the point: Open these small businesses and concerns where poor and particularly black, brown and other “minorities” not only work but congregate as sort of a morbid experiment or test — or more ominously, to quickly, quietly, permanently reduce or eliminate altogether superfluous, low-income, “minorities”?