Beating Back Authoritarianism
by Jamala Rogers
By Jasmine Winston
In the beginning of this quarantine after the schools shut down, like many high
schoolers, I saw a great opportunity to fill my money-hungry pockets. I switched from
my normal 10 hours a week at my local nursing home to racking up 103 hours in two
weeks by working 10 to 13 hours a day. I took myself off the schedule about three
weeks ago because I want to keep everyone in the house safe, including me.
In this time, I gained a huge respect for the people who have to do this every day to
support themselves and their family, especially during this time where they have to
put themselves and others at risk just to put food on the table and keep the lights on.
Now that I am not working, I find myself binge watching Netflix and Hulu, especially
ones with strong black leads like BlackAF, All American, Self Made, Green Leaf,
Black Lightning, etc. Additionally, I find myself isolated with the two people I love the
most, but also the two people that know how to work me to my last nerve. It started off
rocky, me as a teen liking my own space, but also sharing it with a nine-year-old
sister who constantly wants to play Minecraft, and a Black mother who doesn't
believe in personal space till you can afford one. Things got tense very quickly.
I know I along with a lot of teens would be lying if we said there weren't times where
we actually considered dusting off an old tent and camp in the backyard to catch a
break. I definitely have searched for a cheap hotel room, and I know another friend
who is living with another family because their house is very full.
These tense moments lasted for a week until we all had a sit down about spending
time together. My mom agreed that we were in the house too much and staring at the
same walls for days at a time is enough to drive one crazy. Since I am working on
driving, she agreed on going on a drive every other day. We also could get take-out
once a week, and everyone must exercise to stay active. As a cross-country runner, I
figured it was maybe a good time to start running again so I can prepare for the fall
season — if we have one.
The following weeks after that, I started to grow closer to my family, appreciating them
more and getting a chance to spend time with them. Instead of going to my room and
disappearing for days, I teach my mom TiK ToK dances. She gives me driving
lessons, and I introduce her to music I like. I even got her hooked on the show Jane
the Virgin which is one of my favorites. Instead of arguing with my sister, we sit in my
room and play Minecraft for hours all while sharing laughs.
If there are teens out there who are feeling irritated and bothered by everyone in the
house, I definitely recommend just sitting down with the family and making a plan for
scheduled fun. It's very important to hold on to the ones you love close and make
Most of all, take care of yourself! Eat healthy, drink more water, and be active! For me,
I plan events so that I have something to look forward to. I've taken nature trail hikes
and bike rides downtown with a small group of friends, all while keeping a six-foot
distance. I set goals like a small weight loss goal because I admit all these
quarantine snacks have definitely impacted me physically.
I want everyone to know that this virus is bigger than just you. It's about everyone in
this together supporting one another by physically distancing themselves from others.
One ´sneaky link up´ or one hug could put dozens of lives at risk. Be active, healthy,
and social all while doing your part to keep your community safe.
It could have been predicted that there’d be some casualties to the Wisconsin April 7 election. Since that election, it has been reported that more
than 50 people who either voted in person or worked the polls tested positive for COVID—19. That’s heartbreaking to hear on the one hand, but it’s
also inspiring on another level. The heroism of voters in Wisconsin to get to the polls is not unlike citizens in countries where dictators and
oligarchs suppress democratic acts like voting.
The refusal of Republican power-grabbers to proceed with elections without a robust process of online or mail voting is unconscionable.
Wisconsin voters risked their lives — literally — to get out and vote as their commitment to defend democracy. It was a scene reminiscent of
countries with authoritarian-like governments pretending at democracy by allowing elections.
An authoritarian government is a political system that concentrates power into the hands of a leader or small group beholden to that leader, and
who are not responsible to the masses of people. The rule of law is in the hands of that dictator and not open to criticism or opposition. Dissent to
the government is dealt with swiftly and harshly.
The current president in the White House dreams about being a dictator. It’s not just his public worshipping of people like Russia’s Putin or North
Korea’s Jong-Un. The actions of trump say it loud and proud. Examples of these policies are the caging of immigrant children and families; the
attempted shut down of the free press; the holding of military parades; the summary firing of federal officials who disagree; to name a few.
A couple of years ago, voters in Malaysia moved in stealth fashion and ended 60 years of the Barisan Nasional rule — a stunning victory. In
countries like Afghanistan, voters come out in record numbers despite military violence to discourage participation. These are scenarios we must
avoid in the U.S.
The president’s little hands will have a destructive remolding
on the social, economic and political landscape of this
country for years to come. His plans can only be stymied or
stopped by those of us who believe in democracy.
There is much angst about the November elections. There
are valid questions about whether trump will sabotage the
anticipated election. He’s done a lot of damage with his
presidential sweep of executive orders rife with retaliation
against whoever has the audacity to disagree with him.
Right now, we must start the aggressive campaign for
alternatives to in-person voting and the elimination of barriers
to voter engagement. Just in case the pandemic is still in
play. Democracy must prevail, even in the rickety form that it
exists in this country.