Blackness Versus COVID-19

Stay safe. Wash your hands. Stay home if you can. -JBHarris

Kip Diggs, a Nashville marketing consultant, takes a selfie in a homemade mask. He purposefully chose pastel colors that would not be perceived as threatening when he went grocery shopping with his wife over the weekend.
This young man is from Nashville, and his a marketing consultant. While shopping with his WIFE at Wal-Mart, he was put out. See the article here [photo courtesy of the Washington Post and the article’s subject].

The Orange Idiot is ignoring the problem of the shortages of masks, ventilators and gloves. He has stopped federal funding for testing of COVID-19 as of Friday, April 10–Good Friday of all days. The reports this week have said Black folk have being dying (read that again: dying) at disproportionate rate than any other group. With the shortage of masks, the CDC is recommending people go out with masks or something on your face.

Yeah, fam. About that.

I’m a Black woman in America. Criminality is too linked to Blackness for me not have an appropriate face covering. I am actually purchasing masks for my family through a seamstress friend of mine. I am a health care professional, so I need one. Badly.

With that said, this week, I read of two instances of young Black men being put out of Wal-Mart. One in Wood River, IL. One in Nashville, TN. In the second case written by The Washington Post, he had a bandannas on his face. In Wood River, they were only wearing the appropriate medical mask. Why did the young man have a bandanna on his face? Why did fam in Wood River have a mask on? They wore something on their faces to protect them from getting sick.

Video shows black men being escorted out of Walmart for wearing masks
Fam in Wood River were put out of Wal-Mart for just being Black and in masks. During a pandemic. Followed by an officer outside the store, inside the store, and then told to leave. What part of the game is this?

The rage I have towards this situation is beyond words. In the time where everybody is scared, everybody is panicking, and everyone else seems to be out for their four and no more–Black folk still need to possess the same hyper vigilance that got us through escaping slavery! So now, if I just run outside–in a pandemic mind you!–with my hair wrapped up and a bandanna on I might be put outta Wal-Mart?! Or somewhere else? For trying to take care of my family like anybody else? But it is with this same energy that 53% of White women voted for this man. That same energy of ‘just believe the White man will fix it’ that made some Black men vote for him. It’s this same energy that had the Evangelical church get behind him–even now.

There is a crazy surrounding this pandemic that you can only find in dystopian novels. There is a level of ignorance being pushed as gospel which makes me rely more on my faith than I ever have before. Where I find myself remembering my duty to provide care in my day job, as well as protect everyone I love once I leave work. In that love, it equips. It allows me to see the hidden things and remind people what is actually happening! The fact there is a mask shortage, in a pandemic, and the President if lying about it, let’s me remind those who think this is a hoax–it isn’t.

For every few people whom are recovering, there are still people dying. There are still so many Black folk dying in major cities–one of them is Chicago! Hours from the city of Wood River!

Find masks, fam.

Don’t let this pandemic become an excuse to become a hashtag. People are prone to stupid behavior in crazy situations! I need you all to understand the wisdom W.E.B. DuBois still rings–we still have ‘dual consciousness.’ There are things we as a people ‘just can’t do’ because of the ramifications which will come after! It’s not about respectability politics, right now. This is about being aware of who you are, where you are, and how to maneuver in the space we are all now in together. It’s going to take more than hand-washing, soap and bleach wipes to help this.