Week Twelve: Life in the Epicenter of the Coronavirus

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Good morning to you, as we find ourselves in the twelve week of living in a pandemic, the Coronavirus. A Monday morning following a week of protests across the country, a country grieving on a number of levels, a country burdened under the one level—systemic racism, and police brutality. Protests, a unifying means of people raising their voices, firmly providing a platform to communicate pain and frustration. Those of us protesting—in the streets or from our couches—unified in our message that Black Lives Matter. People are risking their lives—in that they have been quarantining for twelve weeks, in an effort not to contract the deadly Coronavirus—to gather in numbers and protest the police brutality we are witness to  and victims of every day. Understanding that if they are walking, bodies among bodies, they put their lives at risk too. That is how dire a state we are in, emotionally, on our knees before the system, begging for change.

According to CNN, approximately 4000 people have been arrested nationwide, in the wake of the protests. Forty cities have imposed a curfew. The National Guards is in twenty six states. I’m watching Omar Jimenez—the CNN correspondent arrested three days ago in Minneapolis—on the site of where George Floyd died, Black Lives Matter signs over his shoulder, ever the beacon. This morning, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said the following: “We have to start off whatever conversation we are having about this with why we are protesting to begin with. We have to remember the layers of pain that people are on whether it is sparked of course by George Floyd. We have to remember Breonna Taylor.We have to remember Ahmaud Aubrey. We have to remember Eric Garner. We have to remember that people have been home, stewing dealing with Coronavirus while they see that their community is disproportionately affected with people who are dying. We have to remember the people who are living n NYCHA, who are trying their hardest to get housing they deserve. We have to remember black mothers whose mortality rate is higher than anybody else astronomically simply because people don’t believe their pain. All of these things have been complex and have been adding on, and adding on, drips and drips into a bucket, that everyone said we know is going to overflow.”

A week from today, on June 8th, the city I live in begins its re-opening. I hope we do not see a spike in cases. I hope we remain vigilant in our protest, using social media and using our voices, and for those of us who have financial means, the ability to donate to the funds designed to help. I hope we see a change in our sense of safety and calm as we walk the streets of our city, that when we see our fellow New Yorkers in blue, we know we will not end up with a knee on the back of our necks.

Amr Alfiky for The New York Times

“Look for black women. Black women are amazing and they always have been and they have been the moral conscience of this country.” — Jumaane Williams.




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