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Episode 17: Not My First Pandemic

Adrian Florez

We are a country wracked by illness, by economic crisis, and by tears in our social fabric that have existed all along, but are too gaping to ignore, once again. 

How do we think about these twin emergencies — the pandemic, and the spasm of grief and anger over racism and police violence? What lessons could history possibly teach us about such an unprecedented situation?

In this episode we bring you a story about race during a pandemic — it was a hundred years ago, but sheds a lot of light on what it means to be in America right now. It comes to us from Mary Anne Moorman, a storyteller and longtime civil rights activist. It’s about her white grandmother, who died during the 1918 flu pandemic. She died in the arms of her best friend — the daughter of former slaves. 

We also meet a young woman named Aminata Kamara, a senior at Garfield High School in Seattle. She is originally from Sierra Leone, which struggled with a terrifying outbreak of Ebola for almost two years. 

So, unlike most of us, Aminata can face the coronavirus pandemic with the knowledge that she’s already got one deadly virus outbreak under her belt.

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Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.