By Erin Miller
“As she walked up to the podium to speak, one of the moms at the County Commission meeting in Provo grabbed a face mask and spit out her gum into it. ‘It’s garbage,’ she shrugged, wadding it up. ‘It doesn’t work anyway. Not for me, and not for my kids.’
Trapped in a land infected by plague,
NY forces its residents to quarantine.
keep the mask in place, and don’t
increase the spread of the pathogen.
Do my part to limit transmission and
hear the shouts from people who
claim to be oppressed by these
scientific health precautions.
A minor inconvenience leads to
Karens and Kyles, protesting
taking care of other human beings.
What a world to live in.
These people claim oppression from
the United States government.
I think of the civil rights movement,
and how white women only got
the right to vote in 1920,
but black women didn’t receive the same
until their time came in 1965.
Interracial marriage is only legal as of 1967.
Our history books gloss over this
form of institutionalized racism.
I keep my mask over my face
in public, walking past these entitled
groups shouting for haircuts and
their favorite restaurants to be reopened.
I wonder if they ever truly understood
their history books or if they just don’t care.
All these men and women screaming
about their supposed oppression and
I can’t help but think of oppressed women
in the distant past who were in marriages
where their husbands could legally rape them
without suffering any consequence,
marital rape only being outlawed in 1993.
But wearing a mask is oppression, I see.
I think back to 2008 when
Prop8 was a thing
which didn’t recognize
same sex marriage in California.
Thankfully in 2013 that
was deemed unconstitutional.
Same sex marriage now legal as of 2015.
I look at the fact that discrimination
in the workplace against people
who identify as LGBTQ
wasn’t federally banned until 2020.
I wear my mask to protect from Covid-19
and see people with disabilities
on meager incomes,
unable to marry their love interests,
otherwise they lose their incomes
as well as their other benefits.
But my mask is an oppressive tool
because the government is
telling me to wear it?
I view the incidents throughout history
of black people being lynched, shot, killed
and see the same stories repeat in the news.
Trayvon Martin, George Floyd,
Breonna Taylor, and more names
come to the forefront of my mind.
I see children from low-income families
not offered the same opportunities
as families who are doing a bit better.
But no, my mask is the oppressor.
The government is taking
everyone’s rights away.
And when I hear these lines,
I have to wonder,
who are they talking about
when they say everyone
is now being oppressed by
the plague known
Erin Miller is a substitute teacher in the state of Nevada. Her BA is in Visual Arts and Graphic Design. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at Arcadia University. She is both an artist and a poet.