Back in Step
Back in step! I started the new year out with good intentions, posting my first piece the first day of 2021. I thought I would be writing up a storm as my retirement was approaching, but my life became a bit crazy. Since the beginning of the year, I have delivered countless presentations on COVID-19, volunteered at vaccination events, and taken a peek at what retirement might have in store for me. I also continued to do my hybrid doctoring, half in the office, half from the comfort of my now messy home office.
Birth of a Blog
As March 2021 came to a close, I realized that I missed the anniversary of creating this blog. Just over a year ago I was compelled to start this site as the Coronavirus Disease 2019 was beginning to wreak havoc in the U.S. and the rest of the world. In my inaugural post I described how I had spent four lovely days in Las Vegas watching basketball. I was in hog heaven. I was dreaming that this would be my avocation when I retired. During the tournament we were joking about the excess sanitizing. “We are not concerned about COVID-19”, we laughed more than once. However, the next week after I returned home things got shut down because COVID-19 was now a pandemic. I wondered if any of my conspirators at the basketball tournament would spill the tea on the doctor who was cavalier about a potentially deadly virus.
COVID-19 Doesn’t Play
In 2020 COVID-19 took us all by surprise and did not play. COVID-19 did not discriminate. It infected and affected all , but especially Black folks and other people of color. These disparities were first brought to light by Wisconsin. Then the Congressional Black Caucus implored the CDC and HHS to collect the data. In the early months I did plenty of tea spilling about some people’s disregard of the seriousness of this disease. Even our former president did not take it seriously, soon enough. He wanted churches to be open by Easter. He refused to wear a mask. He subsequently was infected. Interestingly before he left office, he secretly received a vaccine against this virus.
COVID-19 Impacted Every Aspect of our Lives
During the early months in 2020 I was feverishly reading and watching the news. So much was happening. I wrote about the churches, restaurants, the beaches, and more. The impact on the schools was really ugly. The school issue was one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations. I was home alone and was kept mentally alive by writing about what I heard or saw. There was much to write about, as many lives were impacted and lives lost. I reached a new level of energy and my intellectual curiosity was highly stimulated during this time. I was thankful for the diversion.
My jovial mood turned to anger when 8:46, the iconic time, forever marked the time it took for a police officer to kneel on George Floyd’s neck, killing him. There were a few live witnesses at the scene, but all of us were witnesses of the racism that exudes from the pores of this Nation. This was nothing new, but with people confined to the house due to COVID-19 many more witnessed the blatant disregard for the Black body. The young folks rose up. Black Lives Matter rose up again. Black lives do matter, but some did not see the connection or perhaps they didn’t care!
Two Pandemics Running in Parallel
Two pandemics running wild and in parallel since May 2020. In my May 29, 2020 post, I wrote that no weapon formed against us will prosper. Will there be justice in November 2020?, I wrote. What a toll all these happenings had on my soul and I was still confined to home as 2021 rolled in. Fortunately, the 2021 PAC 12 basketball season happened. It was a different type of year, but it happened.
I was not able to be in Las Vegas this year to see my team win the PAC 12 crown. The few coins I had hoped to drop in the slots went into a piggy bank. I was not able to see, in person, my adopted God-daughter Kiana play for the NCAA championship in her hometown. Last March I was pumped up thinking about riding on the boats in San Antonio and cheering my team on. This seemed like a fairy tale but it was going to be real, until COVID-19 turned it into a nightmare. Nevertheless. I was able to do some serious virtual cheering for my team at both tournaments. I had the gear, the food, and my cheer on. I wish I could have been there! They just don’t know that those games they played helped the time pass in a great way and kept me sane.
A Hell of a Year
Oh yeah, 2020 was a hell of a year. There was some redemption at the end. Former president Trump lost the election, though he claimed fraud. Vaccines were approved that gave hope to us getting back closer to normal. Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett , African American scientist, helped develop the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
But did we learn the lesson about inequity. Did we lead with equity when it was time for vaccine distribution? You know the answer is NO. Worldwide when the vaccines first became available, the World Health Organization reported that only 10 out of 140 nations had access to vaccines. Which countries do you think got left behind? In the U.S., Black and other people of color had higher cases, hospitalizations, and death rates. However, not surprisingly, whites were again disproportionately at the front of the line to be vaccinated. After the fact, leaders began piecemealing strategies together to get Blacks vaccinated.
Black Enough to get the Vaccine
There were lots of discussion about Black people being hesitant- not wanting to get the vaccine. I will tell you that my phone was buzzing with questions and comments -where can I get my shot, why aren’t they giving them in my community?, etc. There were plenty of folks that wanted the shot but couldn’t get on the list, didn’t have computers, or didn’t meet the criteria. Some of the people I spoke with were spurred on by seeing people die, some wanted to feel safer, some wanted to get back to normal, and some were required by their job. There were those who may have been unwilling but they were brought in by their mother and families. I am not down playing hesitancy because that is real as well. I observed more hesitancy among the younger Black population. However, with limited time and energy, my primary focus was getting those that wanted it connected with places that could provide what they needed.
“Black folks always want to follow the rules.” “We need to get this COVID-19 vaccine by any means necessary and if that means that ‘we work at Walmart’, then that is what we have to say.”Local Pastor
As one pastor told me, “Black folks always want to follow the rules.” “We need to get this COVID-19 vaccine by any means necessary and if that means that ‘we work at Walmart’, then that is what we have to say.” My thought was that just being Black in America should be enough reason to prioritize getting Black folks to the front of the line. There will never be 100 % vaccine administration, but it is important to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible. This should be especially true for those who have suffered disproportionately from COVID-19. Like most other viruses, COVID-19 has mutated and variants have arisen. Do you think we will reach the herd immunity (enough people in the community vaccinate to slow the spread) in time?
Is Conviction Enough
He was convicted of all three counts, popped up on my cellphone. I knew instantly it was about Chauvin. I was busy in clinic, inoculated from reality when George Floyd’s verdict came through. My people made sure I heard the great news. A piece of justice had been served. I have to say a piece because Black folks are still being killed by those that should be serving.
While this conviction was important, there are still many issues to address. Racism is still rampant in most arenas, it will still take Blacks 228 years to close the wealth gap, there are still health disparities, disrespect, and disregard of the Black body. We are still considered angry if we are just being ourselves and talking loud. We are still being valued for our physical presence and not our intellect. We have to pass legislation about how we wear our natural hair. We have to rest in the naked declarations of racism as a public health crisis yet those in power can embrace the words, but never move to action. We have a Black man in congress, Senator Tim Scott saying, “America is not a racist country”, as he juxtaposes the racism he has experienced as a Black man. He’s drinking the Koolaid and doesn’t even know it.
Not Doom and Gloom
Sounds like this is doom and gloom, but I am hopeful. Our Nation may seize the moment to take a hard look at our issues and move into action. We must repair longstanding deficiencies in our Nation. Retirement is now around the corner and I would love spending my time learning about the ways that our Nation plans to do better so we can be a stronger and better place for all. I am hopeful. I also plan to wear you all out with some posts when retirement is official. Be on the lookout for more tea spilling and letting down the mask to the real me behind the DrTeaNT. Be ready for super dynamism.
You Already Know!
In the meantime, don’t wait for my next post to tell you what to do, ’cause you already know:
- Stay in the know- what is happening with racism and COVID-19
- Stay at home as much as possible until we know more about the vaccine and variants of concern
- Get vaccinated if you feel it is right for you. More importantly, do it for your community
- Continue to wear your mask properly indoors. Wearing it as a chinstrap does no good
- Practice physical distancing. We are a social people so connect but stay a safe distance away
- Take care of your body. You can maximize your immune system with healthy eating, exercise, and rest
- Keep up the faith
- Have a cup of tea, on me!
Whew! Looking back I can hardly believe that just one year has passed. In one year we have come full circle: a virus – a vaccine; a murder – a conviction; an irrational president – a reasonable president. Circles are never ending so we are not at the end, but a beginning and it keeps going round and round, where it stops, I certainly don’t know!
What has been the greatest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic? Share your thoughts now that we are one year out.