“Are you happy that you are spreading Covid-19?”
Welcome to the Intersection of our national conversation on race and the international conversation about Covid-19.
I live in one of the most restrictive counties in the San Francisco Bay Area when it comes to Covid-19. We were early recipients of the shelter-in-place order and one of the last communities to have that order lifted. Everyone wears masks almost everywhere we go. I actually started sheltering in place about a week before the official order came from our governor. I had just returned from Ghana and my nephew’s wedding in Michigan and we were planning to go to Italy just as the outbreak had started in the Northern Region. We would be traveling to Rome (In the Southern Region of Italy) to see an exhibition of Bonnie’s photos for International Women’s Day (La Festa Della Donna). That trip was traded for the “shelter in place” order for our county.
I am not an immunologist, nor a doctor, so I took the restrictions and the cautions seriously. I tried to be as diligent as I could. I’m not really afraid of getting the virus (I probably should be more worried about it), I’m more concerned about carrying the virus and passing it on to someone else. Our neighbor is 85 and we have frequent interactions (sometimes I help her clean out her gutters or do some yard work). I am an introvert, am doing some new research, and am teaching two online courses…so I like to be at home (and it seems to be my personal philosophy). I don’t like wearing a mask, but it’s a small thing, so I do it when I’m in public spaces—I carry two with me in most places. I have a small bottle of sanitizer that I take when I go out. I accidentally left the lid cracked open and now have the most germ-free back pocket in the universe.
“We weighed the risks.”
Welcome to the complex calculations of navigating 3 months of a global pandemic and 400 years of the consequences of racializing human beings. Our family did our best to make those calculations. We took all the precautions we could…masks, social distance (harder when we were standing, easier when we were walking) and decided to join the protest rally in our community. I can’t shake the stories that my friends have shared about what it means for them to be black in America. I can’t shake the images from the television. I can’t shake the images from our history. I can’t shake the amount of research done on implicit bias, systemic racism, and laws that have privileged some at the expense of others. And I can’t shake the redundancy throughout the sacred texts of my faith to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. The rally seemed like the perfect place to do all three.
We pulled out of the rally when the walk/march turned near our home. It was a busy street; cars were stopped to make room for the people walking; drivers were honking and waving in support; Some people were out of their cars as a show of solidarity. The street we turned on was quiet until this person on the sidewalk yelled at us: “Are you happy that you are spreading Covid-19?”.… ”We weighed the risks.”
Photography by Sarah Sanders