My people, I respect how tough it is right now, and how tough it continues to be. We’ve collectively walked through the fire, and are still suffocated by its emitting smoke. The statement, “I can’t breathe,” means more to Black people than just about anybody else. Our ancestors were forced to build America, forced to enrich the bellies of murderous beasts. Yet we toiled, we travailed – we kept moving forward. Black people are often told to forget the past, to think of now, not then. We must never forget, for to do so, is to erase our ancestors. We cannot let up, we cannot stop – we have to keep moving forward. That forward progression is accepting, and trusting science. This does not mean lessening the impact of lies our people were injected with throughout history. The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service from 1932 to 1972, is cached in our muscle memory. It is another painful example of how little our lives matter, of how our Black bodies are seen as experimental, instead of human vessels with souls, full of experiences. We will never forget. Yet, we must not allow the lessons of history to impede our future, or immobilize our present.
Coronavirus does not discriminate, however, America does. The pandemic is striking Black communities in sharp ways. Nevertheless, we are in this together, every person is connected in this catastrophic COVID-19 clusterfuck. We gotta work together, placing science over cynicism, and fact over fear. The health of the nation is on the line – more than 284,000 people have died from COVID-19, and scientists tell us that the projections do not look good, we must make immediate adjustments, like wearing masks, not going out, and social distancing. This won’t work unless we all do our part. On a personal note, I did not celebrate the holiday with my mother, sister, brother, and nephew as we usually do. It’s a different time and calls for different action. It was disappointing, and infuriating to see people packing into airports, and loading onto planes – seeing local politicians not practice what they preach. To watch news reports of seemingly kind people, point to the ceiling, and simply say, “God will protect me,” when asked why they were traveling, or not wearing a mask. I thought about the exasperation of health care workers – the sacrifice they are making, only to have people say, “I’ll put this in God’s hands,” then travel or not wear a mask; and those who say, “Fuck it, we’re all gonna die someday,” then go to a bar, or have a holiday party. Nonsense over commonsense is on display. It reminded me of a joke I heard years ago, here’s the joke:
A man is stranded on an island after his boat crashes against the waves, and sinks.
He prays for God to save him.
A ship sails by, the people on the ship ask him if he needs help.
The man says, “No, God will save me.”
He keeps praying for God to save him.
A helicopter flies over, and the people on the helicopter ask him if he needs help.
The man says, “No, God will save me.”
Time passes, and he keeps praying for God to save him.
The man dies.
When he arrives in Heaven, he asks God, “Why didn’t you save me?”
God replies, “I sent a ship and a helicopter.”
Full disclosure, I don’t know the name of the man stranded on the island, nor the name of the island he was stranded on. I’m not religious, I worship no particular god, and yes, I did laugh when I heard this joke decades ago. However, now this joke has a bit more meaning. Coronavirus is not about belief. The deity you hold dear will not deflect droplets. Please, don’t be like the man on the island, praying for God to save you, while ignoring the science that’s here to save you.
There is no room for rumors, we cannot aide in the bruiting of bogus bullshit – this is our health – our lives. Rumors will rip us apart, rumors are typically crafted from a nefarious agenda to embellish something, or discredit someone. Rumors are not fact, they are usually meant to destroy someone’s character, exclude them, make ’em look bad, embarrass or shame. However, these rumors, that coronavirus is exaggerated, or that masks don’t help, or worse, that the vaccine is not safe, is hazardous to public health. So, let’s not give way to rumor when it comes to COVID-19. How many people have been subject to a rumor that cost you a promotion, a friendship, an invitation, or denied you an opportunity? Rumors about COVID-19 could cost you your life. Walk away, choose real over rumor.
Scientists have been working, researching, testing, and developing a vaccine. As exasperated as we all are, please take science seriously. And if it makes anyone feel better, maybe consider the vaccine as being saved by your respective god. We can’t act like business as usual because we are not in usual times. This holiday, please don’t travel, entertain, or host holiday parties. We must remember all of the people who have died, and those who are struggling to breathe, because of COVID-19. The people who are in hospitals, overwhelmed, caring for coronavirus patients, and the people who will greet the New Year without their loved ones. No one is saying cancel Kwanza, Hanukkah, Christmas, or that special seasonal worship tradition you may participate in. We all want this to be over, however it will not end until we begin to take the science to stop COVID-19 seriously. Science will actually save us on this one. I’m not a total grinch about Christmas, think of it as Jesus social distancing on his birthday this year, and he wants all of us to do the same.