Amidst the wave of the seemingly endless and depressing news surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a group of Irish citizens set up a GoFundMefor the Navajo Nation, as its communities have been severely affected by COVID-19.
The kind act stems from the Choctaw Nation aiding the Irish during the infamous potato famine of 1847. When members of the Choctaw Nation learned about the Irish famine, they sent over the modern equivalent of $5,000 to Ireland. Now, 173 years later, the Irish have raised over $2.5 million for the Navajo people, who have seen approximately 2,300 reported cases of COVID-19 and 73 deaths as of the beginning of this May.
This tremendous act of generosity embodies the great loyalty and hospitality the Irish are known for. It's baked into our DNA that we look out for those who have our backs, and no matter how much time passes, it is always right to treat others like how you want to be treated.
The point I'm trying to make here is not to flex my pride in being Irish American, but to show that this kind of solidarity is the kind we need in this unprecedented time.
Ireland has always led the way for international solidarity for those that are suffering from marginalization. Whether it be here with raising over a million dollars for indigenous groups to even showing solidarity with the Palestinian people, the Emerald Isle is a prime example of how solidarity should be done.
What the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that many of our political systems have failed to protect the most vulnerable. When a natural disaster hits, an economic recession takes hold of the country or when a global pandemic afflicts our way of life, communities of color often experience the most detrimental effects of such trying times. In fact, take the Navajo Nation that the Irish raised so much money for — The Navajo Nation has one of the highest COVID-19 rates per capita in the U.S., and electricity and running water is sometimes a rarity for some families.
What does it say when another country has done more to help a U.S. community more than the U.S. itself has done? While we should applaud the Irish for honoring an almost-two-century-old commitment, we should follow in their footsteps, as fellow citizens of the Navajo people, and help not only them but other communities of color in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.