Written by Nicole
As some states gradually reopen, people all around the country eagerly await the opportunity to return to the way things were…whenever that was, I don’t remember. This does not mean that it is necessarily safe to go back to business as usual, it just means that spaces are becoming more available for you in the ICU. Similarly, this reopening plan is not as a result of stupid people complaining about their rights being trampled and marching on capitol buildings proclaiming not only their right to remain maskless in a pandemic spread via cough and sneeze juice, but to also look foolish doing it. It just means the life of the economy and corporations is worth more than yours.
And I get it. We have all lost track of what day it is. I personally have not worn anything without an elastic waistband since this all went down. Not everyone can work from home and finances are tight and growing tighter with each passing day. Childcare continues to be a struggle with schools shut. So I do understand why people are jumping at reopening. But the risks are so high and they are especially high for black women. As such, I have some thoughts and suggestions as it pertains to black women and the reopening of America.
Because of our unique position, we need to move differently, now more than ever. Medical racism abounds: for example, some healthcare providers still erroneously believe that black patients don’t feel as much pain as nonblack ones. Is this fair, or right? Not even remotely. But at present, that is what it is, so it would behoove black women to move accordingly. Coronavirus has exposed huge deficiencies in many parts of our lives, and dredged up a particularly powerful emotion: fear. Another emotion I’m seeing is righteous indignation. “It’s not fair that this group can do this thing but we can’t!” they say. And they’re not wrong. But such attitudes in this time of crisis and uncertainty does not serve us. We need to get out of the mindset of things not being fair or balanced, and into the mindset of evaluating things strategically. The moral high ground means nothing if you die up there. So what kinds of strategies do I mean?
Many states are open, beaches and pools are crowded, bars packed, gyms operational. I won’t see for myself though, because I am staying home, and you should too. Miss Rona didn’t just pack her bags and say “okay guys, I’m heading home, see you next COVID season!”. She’s still hanging around, and it only takes one wrong breath to become infected. And while the recovery rate for otherwise heathy people is pretty positive, that doesn’t mean I’m itching to see what all the fuss is about myself. To reduce my chances of becoming infected I’m probably not leaving my house until Christmas, or a vaccine becomes available, whichever is sooner. However…
Remote working has been a blessing, which allowed me to work from home while this pandemic continues to unfold. But not everyone has that luxury. So if you must go to work or out and about, make sure you wear your mask, and properly! If your nose is uncovered, you might as well go bare faced, your mouth AND nose needs to be covered.
Your right to liberty or whatever else is not being trampled because you have to wear a layer or two of cotton on your face. Wearing gloves feels like it provides a barrier between your skin and the nasties lingering on any and every surface, but 1) gloves are not infallible, and 2) wearing the same pair of gloves all day will actually expose you to more germs. Instead of using the one pair of hand condoms (maybe if the parallels were drawn to condoms, people will get it!) to touch the door handle, your wallet, the shopping cart, and the gas pump, skipping the gloves and just washing or sanitizing your hands after each contact would be far cleaner and safer.
Mother’s Day has come and gone, and the next gathering holiday is Father’s Day. For March, April, and May celebrations, many families have had their get-togethers on platforms like Zoom and Skype. Because restrictions have been relaxed lately, it may be nearly irresistible to go meet up with people you long to see in person. But it’s not worth it. It’s bad enough that you can still get infected from some random stranger at the supermarket. Imagine the guilt you would feel if you were the one to give COVID to your octogenarian grandma because you were an asymptomatic carrier. So stick to your teleconferenced family gatherings for a little while longer until the number of cases in your area are significantly lower.
If your current job is not one that can be done remotely, please make it a point to visit every job search engine for legitimate work from home employment. Roles might be hard to come by while COVID rages on, but don’t let that stop you. As more companies adapt to new ways of working, the odd telecommute position might pop up. Earning income from the comfort and safety of your own home is another way to can maintain your safety, and maybe even earn a little supplemental income.
If you don’t have a will or advanced directives in place, please do not delay this any longer. If you are stricken with coronavirus, what do you want done? It has to be plainly written down, because otherwise your family might do something you don’t want while you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advanced directives take the decisions out of your grieving family members’ hands, and it means the difference between passing away peacefully, or having every manner of tube shoved into every orifice as paramedics take turns beating on your chest trying to keep your heart going.
With some doctor’s offices closed to the most urgent of patients, a routine check up was likely out of the question. But as things settle into what the new normal will be, you should make it a priority to schedule an appointment with your gynecologist. In these times of uncertainty, I do not believe it is wise to get pregnant, even if you are in an established relationship. Getting on birth control that you can set it and forget it may be the very best thing you can do once the country fully reopens. Everything is too unstable to bring something as needy and complicated as a baby into the mix.
As America and other countries around the world start to lift their lockdown measures, it is so important for black women to strategically evaluate how they should move in these unprecedented times. Enacting simple changes while all this is happening can be the difference between life and death these days.
Are you still staying home? What are you doing to keep yourself and your family safe? When do you think it’ll be safe to go outside? Sound off in the comments below.
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.