Who are the bearers of messages most important to our lives? How are they helping you actively work for change? For me these days, black authors. I find myself reading and reading books from authors who voices are amplified more so in death than while alive. Audre Lorde first comes to mind. Her words have a way of helping me be as free as a bird. When I read her, when I pay careful attention to her words, much of what I end of saying is all I hope she would approve were she to be alive. Words like how one of the most basic Black survival skills is a willingness to change. It’s a necessary condition for survival she would say, something we learnt over four hundred years ago. Something the new generation needs to become fast with learning. No need repeating the same mistakes of the past.
Change also means growth, even though the act of growing can itself bring pain. Lessons in life will be 100% repeated if not learnt, she would also say. Learn them, even build upon them as they serve as paths towards survival. Don’t waste time romanticizing them too, but know that the lessons they teach seed possible futures. One that will be complex and not easy to achieve. In the end, we will become powerful because we survived and moved in the direction of change. Everything we do to learn the lessons is for our survival and growth. Change therefore is our responsibility. Each of us, where ever and however we stand, and in whatever arena we find ourselves in must change noted Audre Lorde. Which is why I ask again who are the bearers of the messages most important to our lives? How are these bearers helping you to actively work for change? Keep changing whoever and wherever you are.
Every day, after the Wolf Blitzer show on CNN, he lists the names of Americans who have died as a result of the ongoing pandemic. Yesterday, he shared the story of an African American woman, Patricia Ashley, age 53, a wife for 25 years, mother of three children and a grandmother to 15 grandchildren. She was also a pre-school teacher at a private school who caught Covid-19 after returning back to work. Today she is dead. One in 1,000 African Americans have died from the pandemic. If nothing changes from now until the end of 2020, the number will increase to 1 in 500. I am an African America woman. Something has to change!
The debate last night was a disgrace. We have over 206,000 dead Americans, over 7 million have become infected and there is no solution in sight. For the past 6 months, we have watched as our lives essentially shut down. Our schools, our churches, where we eat, where our children play, everything is closed. The debates were supposed to reassure us that someone has a plan to change or turn things around. We have all waited for the current leadership to do something. Nothing has changed. We watched as our lives went into flux in March hopeful that by the start of the new school year, normalcy may return. Nothing has changed. We have heard testing may have increased, tracing maybe underway and those who test positive may be isolating themselves. Nothing has changed. We have been told to wear masks, social distance, wash your hands and keep your personal hygiene in order. Nothing has changed. We have now watched as business opened, schools opened, places of worship opened. Yet the pandemic remains and nothing has changed.
I am married to an essential worker and I remember the months of March and April when he isolated himself, took of his clothes in the garage before he came into the house, didn’t hug his children until he took his shower, walked around with a mask and slept in the basement. The summer months became bearable and he stopped isolating himself. We brought in a baby to the world and became hopeful that something will change. On Sunday for the first time in a long time, after he returned from work, after he took his clothes off and showered and before hugging his kids, he wore a mask. I froze. He felt sick. Headaches, pain, fever. I felt sick. He went to work the next day and asked for a test. It took nearly 4 hours to get tested at the hospital where he works. He did not come home that night. His results were not ready. He slept in his hospital office. So we waited and waited. Waiting for the results lead to more anxiety. What if he tests positive? What if he has exposed the virus to his family, his new 2 month old infant? Waiting for the results made us all sick. Almost 30 hours later, the results came back negative. He returned to work. Thirty-six hours later, he came home and showered.
Like many essential workers with families, our number 1 issue this election is the pandemic. We have been homeschooling our children since March. We have done our best to wear masks all the time, wash our hands and practice social distance. Our kids want to go to the closed planetarium and to the park. I want them to return to school. Something has to change. That’s all. That’s all I am asking for. Something fundamentally has to change and that is all I am voting for. The very serious function of governments is to provide calm and peace and assurance, not anxiety or chaos. The debate last night was chaotic. But like many families of essential workers, I will keep seeking for change until the pandemic ends. That’s our only issue this election. Change!