Covid-19 Call and Response 

Arleta Little

COVID-19 Call and Response

(with Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

April 7, 2020


Everyone has the rights to a standard of living

 Before this and now, in the pandemic

adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family,

I’ve been ending all my communications with “stay well”

 a wish, a prayer

including food,

The lines of cars extend for miles for pick up from the food shelves.


Many of the women I know are sewing cotton face masks.


The first of the month came and with it the call for a moratorium on evictions.

In my neighborhood, graffiti tags reading “Rent Strikes Now” and “They can’t evict us all”

mark walls and lamp posts. More and more tents are filling green spaces. 

and medical care

Ambulances race at all hours.

There aren’t enough respirators, ventilators,

beds, morgues, Tylenol doses, gloves, healthcare workers. 

and necessary social services,

We practice social distancing. 

and the right to security

Gun shops are considered essential and are overrun with customers.

in the event of unemployment,

Already those without work number more than in the Great Depression.

Call centers are overwhelmed trying to process claims.


There’s a tickle in my throat.

My nose runs in the mornings.

But no fever. No cough. No cough.


Those with pre-existing conditions

of diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, COPD are

disproportionately African American



The majority of deaths are male and people over the age of seventy.

old age

My parents are over seventy.  

or other lack of livelihood

So many women are home and without an income,

 how will she or her children …

in circumstances beyond his control.

What were we doing before?  I can’t remember.




to render my self


to embody

an alternative

to the identity

being expressed

in spite of me

to resist

a relinquishment of power

to authorities

who don’t represent me

to activate

my lived experience

to make a statement

punctuated with

my person

to be baptized

in the river flow

of human bodies

human beings

in this moment

and throughout time

who show up.


About Arleta Little
Arleta Little is a writer and culture worker. Her literary work has appeared in Blues Vision: African American Writing From Minnesota and in The Saint Paul Almanac. She is a co-author along with Josie Johnson and Carolyn Holbrook of Hope in the Struggle: A Memoir about the life of Josie R. Johnson. Formerly the Executive Director of the Givens Foundation of African American Literature, she currently works as an Arts Program Officer and the Director of Artist Fellowships at the McKnight Foundation. She lives in the Longfellow neighborhood in Minneapolis.


Covid-19 Call and Response 
Copyright © 2021 by Arleta Little. All Rights Reserved.

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