Written by Penelope Farthing
I was a Walking Dead fan for the first few seasons. I dropped off around midway through season 6, since it just felt like the same formula was being applied over and over. Also, it made me anxious thinking about the prospects of this here city girl being thrust into extreme survival mode. Do I think a zombie apocalypse could happen? Not like the fictional portrayals would have you believe. But with the latest coronavirus wreaking havoc worldwide, in this age of AI and antibiotic resistant bacteria, and that one guy who ate that other guy’s face in Miami a few years ago…you just can’t be too sure.
Now that the Coronavirus outbreak has taken hold of the news, it got me thinking. Would black women (collectively) survive a zombie apocalypse? Humor me for a moment as I discuss.
If nothing else, black women are survivors. For better or worse, we pride ourselves collectively on the ability to make a dollar out of fifteen cents. That tenacity would be one of the key ways black women could survive. In the face of adversity, we plant our feet and get the work done. Additionally, I could count on black women to make the canned food rations and squirrel meat post apocalypse to be rather tasty given the apocalyptic circumstances.
I think many black women do things that would limit their chances of survival in extreme situations. Do you remember when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas back in 2017? There was a particularly striking clip of a black woman who had to be rescued, with her children, from her flooded location. During the interview, she lashed out at the reporter, likely due to the extreme stress and the insensitivity of the reporter who seemingly pounced on her as soon as she arrived. No mention was made of the father of those children.
If survival hung in the balance, would you be out there saving other people, or preserving your energy and resources for you and yours? I’ve never experienced this myself, but one would think that in the time of crisis, “women and children first” would quickly turn into “every woman for herself”, or worse. If you think the world is unkind, and tribal, and cruel now, imagine the chaos that would follow a zombie outbreak. It would be a lot more difficult to rely upon the kindness and resources of strangers when the worst-case scenario has arrived.
And let’s be objective – we already rely on the kindness and resources of strangers now. For those of you who are not self employed, who signs your checks every month? Where do you bank? Who manufactured your car? The black community has little to no black owned necessities, like grocery store chains or power plants and the like. With post-apocalyptic tribalism at an all time high, do you think any group of people would be keen to share? The first law of nature is self-preservation – and that may mean shutting the door in someone else’s face…or getting that same door shut in yours.
Not long ago I wrote about a black woman who had 14 children and why I think that is an all around poor choice, even in the most perfect, ideal circumstances.. But let’s think about this in the apocalypse scenario. By having too many children (yes, there is such a thing as TOO many children, but your mileage may vary), that can impact your mobility in the world, with or without a partner. Motherhood is the chief indicator of poverty. In the middle of a hypothetical apocalypse, any additional mouth to feed is another burden to contend with. Additionally, by having children by a man of any race who has not proven himself dependable in literal life and death, leaves you to shoulder the stress all alone. By being incredibly careful with whom you grant immortality to via your womb, you could fare better in the possible zombie apocalypse (or, the more likely situation, simple ‘hard times’).
A more realistic thing that black women have going against them with regards to apocalypse planning is end of life finances. In the event of an apocalypse, I don’t think StateFarm or Geico would be rushing to cash out your life insurance policies. But in the very real-life event of guaranteed death, albeit not from a zombie bite, too many black women have no provisions in place to pay for funeral expenses, or for the wellbeing of their loved ones. Building generational wealth could be as simple as paying a few dollars a month for a six-figure life insurance policy to pass along to your children when you leave this earth.
Other factors that may play a part in black women surviving an apocalypse is the mentality of things not being fair. If the walls went up, literally or figuratively, and you were outside them, it might not feel fair, but again, in a time of crisis everyone is looking out for themselves. This fixation on how things should be, rather than how they are, will keep black women playing by rules no one else is using, and playing fair, rather than playing to win.
I’m not saying black women should modify their whole life based on the unlikely event of a sci-fi apocalypse, but a part of leveling up is making sure that you are prepared for what could be the worst-case scenario. Tomorrow isn’t promised, and the best thing a black woman can do for herself, and her bloodline if she chooses to continue it, is be prepared. Cultivate life-sustaining hobbies like gardening. With this uptick in witchcraft and root work, learn about what herbs and plants have useful properties, and grow lots of that. Take a first-aid class. Stockpile canned foods and bottled water every few months. Get a gun and practice how to use it. Don’t have more children than you can afford if everything was to come tumbling down. Even though zombies aren’t real, the very real threat of a major natural disaster could come a close second, and having a plan committed to memory can save you a lot of last-minute panic down the line. Hoping for the best is a good plan…to get got. A commonly held belief is that every baby is a blessing, but imposing limits on how many blessings you have can save you time, money, and a whole lot of stress, with or without an impending apocalypse. Getting in the mindset that you have to play to win, especially in times of conflict, is a way to not just survive, but thrive.
I’m no survivalist, but I do like to be prepared. The world ending in fire and zombies is not going to happen, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have contingency plans if something truly mad happened. Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? How would you go about it?