If in the last two weeks, you’ve scoured your local grocery store for pantry staples, worn a mask out, or had to meditate your way out of another trip to the fridge, you’re like quarantined due to COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus. This illness, strongly believed to have originated in China, has swept across the globe with certain countries, like Italy, experiencing a death toll that nobody could have imagined.
Just before most of us came under direct shelter-in-place orders from our local and state governments, there were many closings of gyms, public recreation centers, and schools. Society has definitely been turned upside down.
Coronavirus School Closings
What we learned during the massive school closures across the nation was not that many children enjoy school so much that they miss it. It was not that kids really do enjoy those rectangular pepperoni pizzas. We learned that there are a shocking (at least to me) number of people in the United States who, were it not for free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs funded by the federal government, have children that they cannot feed on their own for even one week.
Of course, many districts and communities mobilized to try to get these children fed throughout the day while unable to attend school.
2020 Census and That Bullsh*t
Concurrently with an international health crisis is the 2020 Census for the country.
In order to get people to take this seriously, the US Census Bureau is rolling out commercials and oh boy…did they! The commercial I’m going to discuss is the one where a Black woman gets off the bus and walks, in the dark, home from work. Meanwhile, at home, her husband is washing dishes, putting the offspring to sleep, and he finally rests to fill out the census.
As she walks through the door, the voice-over is him proudly proclaiming that he fills out the census so that his wife and presumed mother of his progeny can get a closer bus stop to walk home from…at night…alone. She has a huge smile on her face, by the way. I’m not going to add anymore commentary to this section. I’ll make my point soon. Here’s the YT video in the meantime:
Today, a FB friend shared a video where a neighbor was filming the local water department shutting off the water of the woman across the street. Apparently, the woman (Black) who was getting her water services suspended had three children, one a newborn. There was a guy standing near her and I’m not sure who he was but he was also Black.
The neighbor who was filming was just pointing out the egregiousness of shutting someone’s water off during the Coronavirus pandemic. I don’t disagree with her. In fact, I thought most local governments had decided to hold off on suspension enforcement but maybe I’m wrong.
Perpetual Crisis Mode
A couple of months ago, I wrote an article about the homeless Oakland mothers who were evicted from a property they were squatting in due to, they said, the rising rents in California. At that time, I made the statement that the men who are the fathers of those children had a place to stay while their children and the mothers of their children, were homeless and in a whole heap o’ trouble.
It’s time for Black women to stop. Constantly living in crisis mode is not healthy in any way. But the recurring theme that we seem to be committed to in the Black community is unnecessary struggle.
Unnecessary. Let’s define and illustrate it because I think that’s part of why the cycle keeps continuing. Unnecessary means needless or non-essential. During this quarantine, many jurisdictions have defined businesses and activities as essential or non-essential. Where I am (Dallas), an example of an essential business is the grocery store. People need and will need food, toiletries, pharmacy services, and all the other stuff you can get at the grocery store. A non-essential business is the nail shop. You will not die without acrylics or lashes. Similarly, you will not die from not having a baby (a responsibility) with a man who can’t or won’t pay bills.
There seems to be a perception in a lot of the minds of Black women that struggle is our portion. If we’re being honest, we’ve all been on social media when a Black woman who is perpetually in a struggle situation, usually due to being underemployed, a mother, and having a no-good laying in her bed, decides to ask for financial assistance. For some of these women, this is a pattern.
Now, who does she ask for help? Think about it. Think about the supporters of her cries for help. They’re rarely men. It’s almost always other Black women who are tasked with helping her. This is the stuff we don’t like to talk about because it makes the women feel judged and doesn’t stroke the mens’ egos. Avoiding this conversation, however, has clearly gotten us nowhere.
Many Black women were upset about the Census commercial but it speaks two truths; one we already knew and one we don’t want to admit. The first is that Black women are overwhelmingly not cared for as they should be. The second is that many Black women are content to be improperly cared for and it shows in our decisions. In other words, be as mad as you like about the commercial. Your choices will show us how not okay with what’s depicted that you truly are.
I don’t know if you believe in reincarnation, but neither the past, present, nor future me would be okay marrying and procreating with a man who’d let me walk alone from work in the dark every evening. None of those three Kristens would be okay with just having torn my body up to deliver a man’s child and he can’t find $70 to keep the water on each month. Not in the first dimension, second, nor third would I be okay living my life day-to-day knowing that my children are a school closure away from being hungry all day.
Experts have made the point that the upswing in Coronavirus cases in cities like Detroit and New Orleans is due in part to the rates of poverty that are there. In a situation like this, preparation is key. But, poverty makes preparation hard. Even Forbes has reported that minorities will be hit the hardest by this pandemic.
The spiritual part of me says this COVID-19 pandemic is yet another opportunity for us to learn the lessons and get it right next time.
I certainly hope that’s the case.