A little over a week ago, I wrote about how COVID-19, the coronavirus, Ms. Rona n’em were affecting my mental health. Twitter has been buzzing with Rona updates, Quarantine Chronicles, a sprinkling of pop culture updates. There was one thread that crumbled me: racism and inequality in the United States are the biggest pre-existing condition and state COVID data shows that Black and Brown people are dying at alarming rates. Structural racism had been rearing its ugly head for decades and was now making another appearance during the pandemic. Food deserts: unequal access to healthy, fresh foods= diabetes and heart disease. Environmental injustice and redlining housing neighborhoods= dirty air, unclean, unusable water. Neglect and sub-par housing= asthma. An equation the Black community didn’t ask for, but we were experiencing the repercussions. Examples would pop into my head at random intervals throughout the day, altering my entire mood: implicit bias in the medical field. Strategic creation of sub-par neighborhoods, with polluted air and fast food restaurants only. Black people wearing homemade masks out in public had to deal with words like “thug” slurred at them. Somehow we became criminals when being socially responsible. Lack of trust in all systems: education, medical, legal, social. Why trust them now when they’ve been denying our symptoms, pain, hell our whole existence for generations? This Huff Post article breaks it down even more.
The first couple of days afterwards were spent allowing myself to spiral, to feel the feels, to sit in my anxiety and discomfort and know that this shit ain’t right. I felt a tugging to do something for my community, but was too discombobulated to start. Instead, I sat on the couch and ate.
After coming up for air and food that didn’t come wrapped in a grease stained package, I began to wonder about purpose. Meaning. What was this? (Common musings after midnight). Journaling failed me for one of the first times. I’m still thinking about how to find meaning amidst all of this turmoil but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
- It has allowed more recognition of how systemic racism, in this nation founded on anti-Blackness, impacts every single aspect of life. Me and you (your mama and your cousin too) are still affected by it today. The race aspect can’t be swept under the rug and as a collective, the Black community has been able to say: 1. Bruh. Deny me not; and 2. When local, state, federal governments won’t, we’ll be here for each other.
- It has allowed Black people to be vulnerable. Ugly the circumstances, but the responses to how Ms. Rona is affecting us have given us permission to lay ourselves bare, to be raw and vulnerable, confused, to be whole multi-faceted humans who don’t always have it together. As a Black woman, I was taught early on that I had to be the strong one, that there was no space for anything other than being a rock of care-giving perfection. ‘m always imperfect and frequently confused and can now express that.
- This has been a reminder to myself to stop and listen before reacting. In order to volunteer and give help where needed, I want to first learn from those impacted and where any privilege I have can be utilized.
- Workers, laborers make this country. Before the rich and any combo platter of race and class, at the core this country runs on the labor of primarily Indigenous, Brown, and Black folks. We matter. You are essential.
How do you find meaning and purpose in the sad times? Let me know in the comments and let’s engage 🙂
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