Human Rights in the time of COVID-19

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COVID-19 is a devastating public health crisis, but it has also exposed other devastating human rights crises domestically and internationally. In 250-500 words, share your insights into human rights in the time of COVID-19.


A Covid Love Story by Hannah Goldfarb

Photo by Mari Campos @fotografamaricampos in Itabira, Brazil. 2021

My boyfriend and I come from opposite ends of the same hemisphere, yet the world we both met in is now gone. 

It was a beautiful world, one where you kissed the cheek of each new person you met and offered a share of your drink to someone else.

One where strangers weren’t strangers, but just friends you haven’t met yet. 

We met in the streets of Carnival in February 2018 amidst a crowd of over a million people. We were just a Brazilian boy and an American girl who would have never crossed paths otherwise.

In 2020, our long distance love story took a turn. Covid hit while I was visiting him. I returned home in early March, right before our countries went into lockdown. 

As an essential worker at an apartment complex, I returned to work immediately. “Please be safe,” Rafa told me. I entered apartment after apartment hoping that I wouldn’t contract this new virus that was turning the world upside down. 

“It’s just a little flu,” Bolsonaro said in one hemisphere, while Trump insisted the virus would be gone by summer in the other. 

It was four months before the virus penetrated the walls of his home. It was relentless. First, it took his father. Then his aunt. Then his uncle. 

I watched from 5,000 miles away. My father and mother worked from home. My brother attended class from his bed. It was a mirage of a life we once lived, but it was a life nonetheless. 

It’s 2021 and my boyfriend has yet to receive the second dose of the vaccine. My father has already had his booster shot. 

Hannah Goldfarb is an International Studies and Political Science major with minors in Human Rights Studies, International Studies, and Spanish at UNC Asheville and serves on the editorial board.

A Night Too Silent by Bow Rudolph

Reluctant rain drops nudge a disposable mask past the Lexington bridge, to be sucked underground silently. The evening before, kitchen tools clashed together on the street underneath a hotel, bouncing off the silhouettes of its occupants. The headlines will be the protest, an account of the chants, with the polite summary of the grievances that brought bundled up folks, yielding double masks and pots and pans together. 

Before the rain came the snow, genty wrapping the city in stillness for a day. A car passes underneath the Lexington bridge, notices something they consider off putting, and submits a tip to the city with their phone. The report of the 7-10 person homeless encampment makes its way to the Department of Transportation, who with the help of the Asheville Police shorten a required 7 day notice to vacate into a few hours, destroying tents and clearing cardboard. Wind would scour the city that night, reaching up to 50 miles an hour, dragging the temperature down into single digits. 

COVID19 took the worst homelessness rate in 20 years and exacerbated it exponentially. A 2020 point in time count for Buncombe county recorded at least 547 persons who identified as homeless. What good is a stay at home order if you don’t have one? COVID19 didn’t challenge the human right to housing, it serves as a grim reminder why it is a human right. In a city where officials gaze at potential new skylines and skim over the streets below, survival in a pandemic requires more than appalled statements and sympathetic headlines. 

I have to remind myself to distribute my energy and resources away from the expectation of resignations and removals, and into things like mutual aid and collective action. The sadness I felt silently reading the headline from Lexington bridge parallelled with the love for my community, one that wields wooden spoons and steel pots.

Bow Rudolph is a senior Political Science major and Spanish minor at UNC Asheville. Bow is a founding member of Dignity and serves as the section editor for Photography.

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