Last Friday, we managed to return to New York on a flight via Zurich carrying twelve passengers in total. We had masks, disinfectants, patience, and fear. Agents of the CDC (the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) explained to us certain protocols before exiting the aircraft, and as soon as we got off the plane they took our temperature and we proceeded to talk to immigration agents. We took a cab and arrived at our other life at around ten o’clock that night. There was no traffic, but there was police everywhere. It was the beginning of a historic week in the city of New York.
Helicopters hovered around our neighborhood. We live in the heart of Greenwich Village, where the majority of protests originate, and it was impossible not to feel a mix of fear, anxiety, and bewilderment. On Saturday began the small measure of unrest that led to large riots. More helicopters. More police. More people. More chest pain. And on Sunday, the situation got so out of control that for the first time in 75 years the city of New York imposed a curfew. We went out on Monday to go grocery shopping and all the stores in our neighborhood that had been closed for months were now putting up all sorts of barricades.
The curfew was extended and the riots grew while the political class shrank. And on Wednesday, the message, as important as it was pressing, remained hampered by the destruction provoked by the looters (that had nothing to do with those who were protesting peacefully)
And the chest pain continues lodged there. I suppose it is due to what is happening in the world, or to what is happening here, or to the impotence at seeing that we continue to learn nothing: nothing about pandemics nor about racism. What has to happen so we stop being blind?