The world as we know it has become a different place. A few pieces ago (The Quarantine is Perfect for Boring Self-Care) I briefly discussed Covid19 and many countries having their residents in quarantine. While some places are flattening the curve, others are opening back up to ‘normal’. But for Black people, the impact and experience is very different. We are being attacked physically, mentally, and emotionally amidst all of this.
Black folks in the U.S. are being impacted at disproportionate rates than those of our non-Black counter parts. Nearly 23% of reported Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. are African American as of May 20th, even though black people make up roughly 13% of the U.S. population. Many arguments have expressed Black people needing to stay home and take the virus more seriously due to these numbers. It is true and I do not disagree with this fact. However, we must also unveil historical context to explain what has contributed to this happening. Black communities are being impacted due to preexisting health conditions, yes, many of which go back to institutionalized racism and access – where we live, what we eat, medical care. Collective distrust for the medical industry also dates back to institutionalized racism in the health care system and other post-slavery implications. The Tuskegee Syphilis study and rising mortality rates in Black women giving birth are just two of the many disturbing examples we have. It’s very complex and extensive history.
In addition to this tragedy of disproportionate death rates, we are reminded time and time again that being Black in America means to be in danger (potentially at all times). We’ve learned we are not safe in our churches, walking the street, running in neighborhoods, on the play ground, in our vehicles, or even in our own homes. We have mourned the lives of two Black men, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, who were publicly murdered at the hands of racists within the last two months. The execution of these men has been recorded and distributed over and over across the Internet. As these traumatizing videos float around we are also being informed of the Black women who have been killed unjustly whose names may never be on the news. It’s almost as if our Black experience yields no rest. We aren’t numb to seeing the murder of Black bodies. It is still as painful as the first ‘viral’ video. Who else’s death going viral is normalized anyway? Right.
Now lets circle back to Covid19’s implications, specifically as it relates to finances. Our stories vary at this time. Some of us have the privilege to work safely from home, some of us have been laid off, some of us are at risk due to going in to work every day, some of us are able to collect unemployment, some of us received stimulus checks, and some of us aren’t receiving any financial support. The Department of Labor revealed that a historic high, 16.7% of African Americans were out of work during this time. Again, for context, Black people only make up 13% of the country.
I present all this to say, there’s a heavy energy within the community (and has been for centuries tbh). Our community is being impacted greatly in various areas. This isn’t to evoke fear or worry but to discuss the facts. These things are happening. These experiences are real. We respond differently and that’s okay. But with all this taking place, I question how we can make a point to show up for one another?
Despite our trauma, we rise. I truly love us. The ability we possess to rise above, to make something out of nothing, and to be resilient time and time again is almost unimaginable. I am grateful for our spirits. I am grateful for our ability to find light in darkness. I am grateful for the way we connect with and hold space for one another. We deserve fruitful long and healthy lives. We deserve rest. We deserve love. We deserve humanity. We deserve space to heal. We deserve to be held in high regard. We deserve safety. We deserve security. We deserve lives that feel free.
Please take your time these days. Every day there is something that can disturb our peace. Every day there are triggers. The load is heavy. We carry it together. We aren’t alone in this. Do what you feel is necessary and most fulfilling for you in this time. We need to love on ourselves (and each other) more than anything right now. Take your time processing all of this. Let’s talk through our thoughts. What will make the day better? What will make you smile? What brings you joy? Take care out here.
Sources: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/27/as-us-coronavirus-deaths-cross-100000-black-americans-bear-disproportionate-share-of-fatalities.html & https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/05/08/covid-19-layoffs-take-toll-women-people-color-and-young/3094964001/