I have gone back and forth about whether to share everything going on in my personal life on my professional Twitter. But I feel like it’s a story that should be shared.

My social circle in my hometown is going through a COVID superspreader event.
I come from the working class. Most of my family and friends in my hometown are teachers, retail workers, and small business owners—some of the people most impacted by this pandemic. They’re also white and on the west coast, which is why they have been spared until now.
COVID didn’t enter this group because they were recklessly partying—at least, not at first. The main person in this story probably contracted COVID at work.
I don’t want to say what she does—out of privacy for everyone involved—but her role makes her a pillar of the community. She has two jobs. She comes into contact with a lot of people. Both jobs are the kind of positions we fought the hardest about when deciding if/how to re-open.
Maybe in part because it was so politicized, her main employer appears to have some internal policy of not creating alarm among staff—and all the people they interact with every day. They don’t tell anyone they may have been exposed until they have a positive test result in hand.
Similarly, the person originally exposed often works the whole time.
There is still a shortage of tests in my hometown. At most places, it is policy to refuse to test anyone who is asymptomatic—unless they’re an athlete or work in local media. They seem to be out of rapid tests most places. People are back to waiting days or weeks to get results.
All of this explains what happened to my friend. One of her co-workers—who she had been in close quarters with, without masks on—tested positive for COVID a couple of weeks ago. She had worked even after she knew she was exposed—even after she started to show symptoms.
When my friend’s employer told her about her exposure, it came with the expectation she, too, would still continue to work. They could arrange a test for her two days later, but when it came time to take it, my friend was still asymptomatic. They opted against the test.
During that time, my friend still had a lot of other obligations—including a second job. As part of that job, my friend is expected to host events. She hosted at least two. Inside. Masks off for most people, most of the time.
I can’t imagine what was going through her head in all of this. Denial? A naïve hope that she wasn’t sick? A feeling that she couldn’t actually do anything about any of it without facing penalties at work, so best to live life as normal?
She didn’t tell most of the people in her network about her exposure. I found out because she has close ties to my family members—both in her personal life and at work. But in general, she’s keeping it secret. It’s probably what her employers would want her to do.
And, to be honest, it’s probably just scary for her. I come from a pretty conservative town. I’ve watched friendships and families fall apart because some people believe in COVID and others don’t. Disclosing the disease isn’t straightforward there.
I imagine all of this contributed to her decision to go to a birthday party for an older friend whose spouse is a cancer survivor. They’re both high risk. A lot of other people were there too

It’s hard to take off the hat of denial when you’re expected to wear it all day at work
My friend started to show symptoms for COVID a couple of days ago. She doesn’t have positive test results back yet. Thankfully, the symptoms were enough to convince her employers to allow her to begin to quarantine.
My initial reaction to this was not compassion or empathy for my friend. It was anger. Over the past two weeks, this one person exposed many, many of the people I love most in the world to a deadly disease. How could I not be angry?
Everyone else who knows is angry too. People are talking about ending their friendships with her. Ghosting her. Never speaking to her again. And it’s understandable. It also means no one (as far as I know) is bringing her food or checking in on her symptoms.
But today? It’s easier for me to think more like a sociologist. To recognize the role of structure in her behavior.
The turning point for me was a conversation with my brother-in-law about his work week. He works in retail as a manager of a store that has never seen higher profits than in this pandemic.
Earlier this week, there was a day when seven of the cashiers called in sick with COVID symptoms. Another came to him to report she had been exposed.
There was a time in this pandemic, when this would have closed the store. Instead, none of the patrons know. They’re angry that their holiday shopping is slowed down with so few cashiers.

And they're blaming the cashiers for "being reckless and getting sick."
Most of us don’t want to believe that our jobs define us. Especially shitty jobs. When you’re asked to put your life on the line for work, how do you justify to your friends and family that you won’t prioritize seeing them just as highly?
So you go to a party. A family holiday. You become a superspreader. It wasn’t the right thing to do, but it felt right at the time. Or at least, it didn’t feel as wrong as risking your life for a low wage job that can’t cover your rent. And sacrificing your relationships to do it
Close the restaurants and the bars. Close the stores. Pass a COVID relief package to pay the workers. Let the working class have the privilege of safe quarantine pods.
I’m seeing people respond to this thread by calling out the individual actions of my friend.

Please remember that is only a small piece of the puzzle. Our country’s inadequate response to COVID holds the most blame. Call your representatives—especially local ones.
And on that note—@GovSisolak, please protect my home state. Businesses with outbreaks should be closed. No one should be forced to work in an unsafe environment and put their loved ones at risk.

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More from @NBedera

16 Oct
I've noticed this thing that happens in political fights between friends and family. When things look like they might get heated, one person interjects with, "I love you."

This is a control tactic I recognize from my work on intimate partner violence. A thread.
Weaponizing love is always, always, ALWAYS a red flag. In an abusive relationship, it usually takes the same form:

"You have to ignore that I'm hurting you because I love you."
Do abusers come out and say it that explicitly? No. Of course not. But that's the underlying message when violence is followed up with, "I just love you so much."

And it's effective.
Read 17 tweets
15 Oct
Apparently this needs repeating:

You can't support sexual assault survivors and be anti-choice. Bodily autonomy is bodily autonomy. Survivors need access to abortion.
And before anyone @'s me about rape exemptions, remember these key facts:

1. Some states require victims to report to the police before they qualify for an exemption.

2. There are many reasons victims don't report.

3. Not all victims immediately recognize they were assaulted.
4. In many states, minors still need the consent of their parents for these abortions--even when their parent is the rapist.

5. All of this is creates additional barriers on victims getting the support they need after an assault.
Read 4 tweets
19 Sep
In times like these, words aren't enough.

But I know I'm not losing my rights and the values I hold most dear without a fight. In case you're feeling the same way, here's a checklist of how to harness your grief, anger, and fear into action.
Vote. Check your registration or register for the first time. Learn how your state is handling voting during COVID. Make a plan to vote early and safely. betterknowaballot.com
Volunteer and donate to political campaigns. This link is for the Biden campaign, but down-ballot races in your state matter too. joebiden.com/take-action/
Read 11 tweets
12 Aug
All these people on Twitter acting like a moderate in the White House means progressive organizers will abandon their principles and that the energy we get from Trump is better than a Biden presidency ever would be. Let me remind you what Trump did to Title IX activism. A thread.
But before we get started--what energy? Every activist and organizer I know is EXHAUSTED.
Anyway, had to get that off my chest. On to the point.
Read 15 tweets
3 Jul
It’s hard to describe the joy and rage and feminist organizing happening around these rapist lists on Twitter right now.

These lists do more than name men to avoid. They show survivors they aren’t alone. That it wasn’t all in their head. It’s so powerful.
Just imagine being told for years that you misunderstood your rapist. That your trauma is just confusion over a miscommunication. That he’s a “nice guy.” And then you see his name on a list—and you weren’t the one to put it there.
It’s infuriating and heartbreaking and so, so validating. It’s not uncommon for the survivors to find each other and work together for justice or demanding change from the organizations that betrayed them.
Read 5 tweets
27 Apr
I asked my students once what the most important thing was that they learned in my class. They said simply: "We all know and love a rapist." It's probably the phrase I repeat most often when teaching and I think it would do the Democrats some good right now. A thread.
It's really tempting to think about rapists as evil strangers that we could easily pick out in public. It makes us feel safe and like we have good judgment. But in reality, rape is a mundane (and still terrible) thing.
I know the college sexual assault literature the best, so we'll use that as an example. Some studies have found that as many as 11% of college men commit rapes. researchgate.net/publication/28…
Read 14 tweets

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