Social Instability and Community Opportunity During Pandemic Season (Coronavirus Reflections)

Hannah Spadafora
7 min readMay 19, 2021

The year 2019* included surreal predictions of an impeached president getting a swing at a re-election campaign announced alongside terrifyingly heartbreaking images of large swaths of Australia on fire, endangering cities and animals alike. A year later, and things feel no less surreal, as the Coronavirus is on every airwave and Facebook post — anxiously stuck on everyone’s mind as we commit to community support via social distancing practices. There are many sites, videos, and other media out there delivering vital information on how to minimize the chances of catching and spreading COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus. Alongside statistics and poignant coverage and nods to the work being done by medical professionals and essential workers, the rest of the news is largely focused on how a handful of elite political and economic actors are working to restabilize society and return us to order. A few have noted, however, that within catastrophe lies opportunity. The scale of the opportunity is grand, too, given the series of disasters we find ourselves in.

Pandemics and other catastrophes provide powerful impetus towards political and social power-shifts. There is precedent for significant social change to occur in the following of a disaster; a prime example is New Orleans post-Katrina, when attempts to speed up processes of gentrification and whitewashed, rich-washed revitalization were met with a number of social organizations mounting organized resistance. Communities who normally suffer from these events can change the narrative, and do so more effectively when coalitions are formed across borders of difference in name of a common aim. Recent suggestions that we should value the economy over human life, as well as the stimulus relief bill that still set aside a decent buck for corporations while providing what many have criticized as meager help for individuals and their families, both fit well within the logic that organizations that benefit the elite take priority over the people who labor on the ground, despite the fact that it’s not the ownership class maintaining daily organizational functions for minimum returns on overall corporate profits. In events like these, we find ourselves at the mercy of the more vulnerable side of our mortality — the fragility…

Hannah Spadafora

Hannah Spadafora is a writer living in the Atlanta area with multiple cats and underused degrees in anthropology, philosophy, and religious studies.