It’s not fear that grips him. Only a heightened sense of things.Narrator from 300
In the scene embedded above, a young Leonidas is out surviving in the wilderness as part of his training to be a Spartan soldier. The scene above tells the story of him crossing paths with a wolf looking for a meal. In the scene, we see the boy turn away from the wolf and walk towards a small crevice in a mountain. The wolf gives chase and gets stuck as the boy dives backwards. Then the narrator says the above quote.
That scene has come to mind a good bit as I’ve considered how I try to continue making progress towards my goals in a world upended by this virus. Early in the days of social distancing in the US, I was really energized about locking in and getting a ton done with the extra hours of not having a commute to deal with. Then, I wondered why my brain felt like it was on a treadmill, reminding me that I had slipped a bit in using my tools to maintain my mental health. Today, I’m doing my best to take steady steps towards my goals and exercising the resilience I’ve built over the years going through tough times.
Hard times never last, tough people they do.Ace Hood
While I love this quote, it’s been challenging to watch is the parallel experience black folks are going through in the U.S. On one hand, the creativity we’re seeing from the musicians among us has been magical. DJ DNice kicked the energy off with his Homeschool sessions, and Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have carried the energy forward with the battles they’re organizing. I already love dancing by myself, and they’ve taken my solo dancing to another level.
At the same time, black folks are most likely getting hit harder by COVID-19 than other ethnic groups. New York, New Orleans, Detroit and more hot spots for the virus in the US have large black populations. It’s hard to see 40% of the deaths in Michigan coming from the black community when we only make up 14% of that state’s population.
My ears perked up last week when I heard Chamath Palihapitiya tell Kara Swisher that he sees something similar to the Patriot Act happening as we emerge from this pandemic. People will most likely want to know that the people around them are healthy and may be willing to give up more of their information in order to know who around them is healthy.
Telecom operators in South Africa are already working with the government to help track the movements of people who have tested positive for coronavirus and identifying the people with whom they come into contact with. Here in the US, there are calls for immunity certifications to identify people who could go back to work, provide healthcare, and more.
Should Chamath prove to be right and immunity certifications become a thing, my mind goes back to black folks disproportionally dying from coronavirus in Michigan. We’ve already seen the impact of label “Chinese virus.” How do we ensure black folks aren’t labeled as somehow deficient as opposed to existing in a system that has made it quite difficult to remain healthy? A lot of black folks made it through tough times over the more than 400 years we’ve been in the U.S. Yet, a lot of black folks didn’t.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I don’t know right now, but I’ve been encouraged by the many virtual gatherings of black folks to put our heads together in efforts to figure out how we support each other, exercising resilience. I’m grateful to get to support friends’ and acquaintances’ businesses, particularly the ones who are setting aside some of the revenue to support efforts to keep folks fed and healthy, investing in resilience. As I get a sense of the next right thing to do, I will do that.