Hi, our names are Mimi and Jasmine. We are members of the ACRS Civic Engagement Youth Organizing Team. ACRS (Asian Counseling and Referral Service) is a nonprofit founded in Seattle that offers community-based multilingual and multicultural services to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. We are both Vietnamese American women who care deeply for our community and work to serve its goals.
“Doug gave me a standard as a Black man,” said Merman Sallier, a music producer and digital instructor from Seattle who grew up in the Central District and attended Zion Preparatory Academy with the class of ’91. “Just the way he carried himself and the way he communicated with people — his cars, his relationship with his wife, his relationship with his children, just everything. He was someone that me and a lot of my friends looked up to as the standard. At the time, the only other Black men to emulate in his community were drug dealers and pimps.” But even “those guys looked up to Doug,” said Sallier.
In King County, by now, nearly 85% of people aged 20–69 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. I’m part of that majority. I’ve been fully vaccinated since March. Before I begin, I want to be clear: I am not arguing for or against vaccinations. I’m asking us in the vaccinated majority to recognize we have more in common with the unvaccinated minority than we realize.
The chances of you knowing someone who isn’t fully vaccinated in the most populous age groups is over 1 in 5. While ardent “anti-vaxxers” who defy COVID-19 protocols are the most vocal of this minority group, they don’t represent everyone who is unvaccinated. I have close ties to some in the minority. They quietly refrain from crowds to reduce risk to themselves and others. They wear masks. They are not belligerent. Many don’t voluntarily share their status because they don’t want to have to defend their choices. Or they want to avoid social ostracization.
With near certainty, you personally know adults in King County who are choosing not to get vaccinated. They probably even let you assume that they are vaccinated because they don’t want to be labeled as “uneducated,” “selfish,” or a “right-wing conspiracist.”
Because I’m part of the majority, I’ve been privy to many conversations in which generous and loving vaccinated people casually talk about the “stupid” unvaccinated as “deserving” of sickness or “asking” for death. I share many of the views of the vaccinated. I admit to feeling schadenfreude when President Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 last year. Once vaccinations were widely available, I too read the news of a COVID-19 death looking to see if the deceased was vaccinated or not as a way to calibrate my compassion. I’ve heard many vaccinated people relish exchanging stories of pandemic repentance, when someone expresses remorse for remaining unvaccinated from their COVID-19 deathbed. It has become socially acceptable among the vaccinated to disparage the unvaccinated.
(This article is co-published with The Seattle Times.)
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