Pandemics and Racism

It’s been nearly two and a half years since my last post and to say that life’s really happened in that time would not be an exaggeration. Now, it is 2020;  ask anyone and they will tell you that this was not what they were expecting in a new decade. Kobe Bryant’s death was the start of decline for hope in the year and now we are in a pandemic and also in a time of grieving, protesting and reacting to the deaths of more unarmed Black people due to racism. To have all of these tabs open isn’t comforting, but conversations that we as a people have long avoided are being had.

Anyone who knows me knows I dislike conflict, drama and disheartening news. It is exhausting. Personally, the years 2017 through 2019 served up enough drama for me. However, with people genuinely checking in on me for my health: physically, due to COVID-19 and mentally, due to the killings of people who look like me, it’s lead me to pause and think about my feelings.

From a very young age, us Black people are faced with the realization that our expiration date as a race tends to be quicker than our brothers and sisters with less melanin. We deal with higher risk of a number of diseases and although slavery ended 150+ years ago, the root of what lead to it and what kept it alive so long hasn’t been dealt with. Families were torn apart with slavery back then and today, it is with the prison system and being killed in situations that don’t warrant the loss of life. My constant fear is to grow numb as the hashtags of victims’ names rack up on social media like money being raised for a ’90s telethon.

My second major was African and African Diaspora Studies at UT, but to be honest, like most students, I probably skipped doing a lot of required reading and now I am not only regretting that decision of 20-something me, but wanting to (re)read those books and articles to educate myself outside of my personal Black experience and be better versed in sharing when friends, colleagues and associates ask me what they can do to help and how can they learn more about systemic racism. At times I feel like I’ve done myself and those who I influence knowingly and unknowingly a disservice by not fully utilizing that knowledge and my story to spark change.

My Black experience includes seasons of being told I acted White, seasons of self-hatred because I didn’t know where I fit in at, and my current season of continued self-discovery, the realization that my story as it is has value and finally keeping my crown on my head. I am still in the process of determining my personal plan of action in being part of positive change, but felt that I should just start by writing out my feelings and initial thoughts.

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