Pass the Texas state lines through Oklahoma – Kansas - Nebraska across the United States to the PA, we go. The only thing moving across state lines in masses are semi-trucks, and ours happens to be one. Everywhere, 18 wheels burning up and down the byways and highways to restock store shelves, that were gutted in the matter of seconds, in grocery stores before the good people of the United States start pillaging for food and toilet tissue. As we maneuver across the nation, comparing the aggressiveness of each states’ shelter-in-place order, tumbleweeds blow across abandoned streets in some cities resembling ghost towns. Some cities, however, appear lax like a college student’s spring break; despite, the number of infectious cases rising beyond 397,000 and the growing death rate climbing beyond 12,000 in the United States. Some cynics refuse to stay home. Why is it difficult to stay-at-home knowing it helps reduce the spread of COVID-19? Are we doing enough to protect ourselves and others? Will the federal government step in to protect us from ourselves?
Paul LeBlanc, CNN, www.cnn.com reports Dr. Anthony Fauci saying, “I don’t understand why every state hasn’t issued stay-at-home orders.”
Although we can freely move about for essentials, you might be feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, hopelessness, boredom, or even frustration; feeling imprisoned within the walls of your own home; shelter-in-place, echoes home confinement – house arrest – lockdown. Going out to grab essentials resonant yard time. To us, 14-days quarantine sounds more like solitary confinement. These agonizing feelings are balled up and fueling the flames in the pit of our stomachs, as our freedom is slowly being ripped away. These emotions are enough to
cause anyone to rebel against a stay-at-home order. You may contemplate being selfish. You contemplate listening to the little person standing on your left shoulder screaming, “Rebel!”, regardless of the lives it could save.
We all have a choice to remain home with our loved ones; to protect ourselves, our families, and others from COVID-19. We all, for now, have the freedom to reject the orders to stay home, the freedom to risk other people’s lives, until the government steps in. We all have a choice, unlike the many men and women behind bars.
By now, I can imagine your left brow raising and hear the echo of your disapproving voice, saying, “Are you comparing our current situation to that of someone incarcerated for a crime? The two are non-comparable. “I haven’t committed a crime, they committed a crime, they need to do the time.” Now ask yourself. “Should I be convicted of a crime if I were responsible for spreading the coronavirus because I refused to stay home?” Consider James Bain, who was exonerated by DNA evidence after spending 35 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit, www.innocenceproject.org. If a man or woman wrongfully imprisoned can spend half their life in a 6 by 8 cell, surely, we can shelter-in-place, in the comfort of our homes. There is no true comparison! It is far worse for one to be locked down behind bars for a crime they did not commit than to be ordered to stay-at-home for the safety of self and others we love. Ask yourself: Do I care about myself, about my family, and about the welfare of others? Would I stay at home if I knew I’d be placed behind bars, a true lockdown, without a key?
Life is filled with choices. Our choices as of now are to save a life. Stay at home, unless you have an essential job or must go out for essentials. Save a life. Don’t hoard food and sanitizing supplies like beavers and squirrels’ cache before winter falls. Surely, we can do better!
Need help creating fun at home?
Google ways to be creative or entertaining while home during coronavirus lockdown. If you’re over 30 years old, think back to your childhood days for fun ideas. Think Outside the Box!
Updated: Since writing this article, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 65,000 people, with over 1.13 million cases. From Diddy’s Black America & Coronavirus Town Hall, news reports, and Oprah’s talks on OWN and Apple TV about coronavirus’ impact on the African American Community, it is clear that COVID-19 has drastically hit the Black community.
From The Root
The disproportionate number of black people who are dying from the coronavirus disease continues to grow.
Deborah Gatewood, a 63-year-old healthcare worker who lived and worked in Michigan, died earlier this month from COVID-19 complications. Her daughter is now speaking out about what she describes as the “disheartening” treatment—or lack thereof—her mother got from the hospital she visited no less than four times before her death, seeking help that she ultimately did not receive. Gatewood had worked at that same hospital for 31 years.
Deborah Gatewood’s story is heartbreaking, yet, it is not new to the Black community. Her story had a voice. But how many of the voiceless have succumbed to COVID-19 for the same reason? I’m certain, we’ll never know the answer. And, if numbers surfaced the truth would lay somewhere in between.
Despite the number of reported cases, backlash, and against medical experts’ advice many states began reopening. From CNN GeorgiaGov. Brian Kemp started to ease restrictions April 24.
Gyms, fitness centers, bowling alleys, body art studios, barbers, hair and nail salons, estheticians and massage therapists were able to reopen April 24, with certain rules. Theaters and restaurants were allowed to reopen April 27, also with caveats.
The caveats include social distancing and screening employees for illness.
Bars, nightclubs and music venues will remain closed, for now.
A shelter in place order for “medically fragile and elderly Georgians” is in place through June 12.
The shelter in place order for other Georgians ended April 30.
“However, moving forward, I am urging Georgians to continue to stay home whenever possible,” Kemp said in a statement. “I want to thank the people of our great state who heeded public health advice, afforded us time to bolster our health-care infrastructure, and flattened the curve. We were successful in these efforts, but the fight is far from over.”
Did Kemp put the above in play after 45 gut punched him with a quick reversal of his initial approval of Kemp’s reopening of Georgia? Interesting.
To my people, use your best judgement for you, your family, your people. Is your life or the lives of your loved ones worth getting your nails, hair, and eyebrows done? We can get Grown-n-Sexy when it’s safe to do so. Remember we live “Outside the Box.” Don’t let anyone use you as a guinea pig – literally putting you in a box, a pine one.
Written by Tonika Yvonne Wheeler
'Have the Courage to Dream & the Courage to Go Get it."
Damaged short film trailer
As I sat in a semi truck somewhere between Wisconsin and Chicago on a freezing
January night, refusing to move out of the warmth of the sleeper, I began swiping
through movies on my Showtime Anytime app. I was bored, and sick of being
surrounded by snow and freezing wind gusts. I needed a good movie to take me
away from it all. I’d ignored the movie Green Book for over a year now, not
wanting to see the cruelty and hatred displayed towards my people. But tonight,
my inner monologue said, “Let’s give it a try. If anger begins to stir up, we’ll turn
it off. Deal?” “Deal,” my reply to myself.Instantly, I developed tunnel vision.
I could kick myself, not really, for waiting so long to watch it.
My eyes and ears were fixated on this brilliant film with its magnificent actors.
I hung onto every moment and every word. Then BAM...this
brilliant soul spilled out a powerful and heart wrenching monologue, “Yes, I live
in a castle! Alone. And rich white folks let me play piano for them, because it
makes them feel cultured. But when I walk off that stage, I go right back to being
just another nigga to them—because that is their true culture. And I suffer that
slight alone, because I’m not accepted by my own people because I’m not like
them either! So, if I’m not black enough, and I’m not white enough, and I’m not
man enough, what am I?!” Pause. Rewind. Replay. Hit me with it again
Mahershala Ali! Then I reflected on how many of us, especially people of color
have undoubtedly felt this way?
Quickly, my mind shuffled through memories. And yes--there it was. Fear -- the
fear of not being accepted -- fear of being alone -- fear of not fitting in -- fear of
being called weird. Which I’ve been called before by a stupid guy because I left
him a poem, written by me, and one long stemmed yellow rose. I never did that
again! But that’s another story for another time. Searching deeper into the
crevices of my mind, my heart began to sink as one revealing conversation
ascended like a blade of grass. A conversation that answered every question I’d
ever had; every question I’d ever been asked.
Before me sat a beautiful soul that I’d admired my entire childhood. She had the
looks, intellect, proper grammar, and vocabulary that often had us scratching our
heads, saying, “Ummm. Yeah, I don’t know what that means.” However, the very
things I admired were the things others despised. How could this be?
Brilliance...Beauty...Black. How can you not love this?! Nevertheless. My cousin
was told repeatedly as a child, “You think you’re white.” You think you’re better
than us.” And I believed it because I remember at times being asked, “Why she
talk like that?”
To be honest I’d said it once or twice. But not because of the extensive vocabulary
nor the proper enunciation of words. It was because of that damn BABY TALK.
“Grrrr!” LOL. “Here she go! She’s going to get her way, AGAIN.” Yes, I was hating
because she got her way with her baby talk. But I still admired and adored her.
Could she have made better choices? Absolutely. If she’d known my admiration
for who she was and how others looked up to her, would that have changed some
of her decisions? Maybe. Maybe not. Still, I wish she’d expressed her feelings
before she’d made life changing decisions. Behind my lens was someone that
had everything. Behind hers, she felt she did not have her blackness; she wasn’t
black enough, she didn’t fit into the black box – the black brand – nor the white
Click here to read:
In childhood your blackness being challenged can be devastating, not so much in
your adulthood. As a child you’re on the journey of self-discovery; you’re still
trying to find your true identity. “Where do I fit in?” “Who am I?” If your
observation of your black surroundings - - our black community - - your black
family that’s questioning your blackness, is smothered in a life of criminal activity
your direction can be smoky and suffocating. Unable to see clearly, you’ll kick
into survival mode, fight or flight. Either you’ll fly into your true identity or fight
to prove you’re black enough.
How many of us have dimmed our light, failed to excel, pretended to be
something we weren’t because we were trying to fit into the puzzle that we
considered our blackness – our black box? What is being black? Who defined
blackness? And, why must our blackness be dressed in poor grammar,
government assistance, and criminalization? Why does it have to be untalented,
uneducated, and uncouth? And who the hell told us that if it didn’t look like this
it wasn’t black? And why did we fall for it? Did we fall into the Willie Lynch trap or
have Stockholm syndrome? If so, how the hell do we get out of it? Are we crabs
in the bucket, afraid of being left behind? Are we our people’s worst enemy,
wanting them to fail because you fear stepping out of your comfort zone?
Why do we allow others’ opinions of us to influence how we move through life?
My cousin hid brilliance behind the walls of the penitentiary. I hid my talents deep
within, journaling in a hidden notebook. How many are behind prison walls
because they didn’t feel black enough or questioned, “Who am I?”How many gifts
are hidden in the pages of a notebook, afraid of being different or being judged?
Why do we hide our gifts?
We hide because of the grotesque word – FEAR – that loves to splash its ugliness
around. Fear of not being accepted; fear of being called weird; fear of being
criticized; fear of not being black enough; fear of not being good enough; fear of
being judged; fear of being alone. Plain ol’ FEAR.
I’d heard my share of negative comments, from my skin being too dark to being
weird. Their opinions of me caused me great difficulty in honing my gifts, until I
accepted and embraced my differences...until I learned to love the fact that I was
eccentric. Where would I be if I’d never allowed those opinions to invade my
Everyone wants to put you in a box. “You get a black box!” “You get a white box!”
Schreckkkk! “Ummm, what box does this one belongs in?” Some of us proudly
hover in between. It can be a lonely road when you don’t ride with likeminded
and supportive individuals.
Our history in America is painful and seemingly disgraceful. We must remember
that OUR creativity and power-built America. We must remember that we come
from people that had everything stolen from them: their country, family, name,
tradition, language, religion, and dignity. And, at the same time, stole OUR truth.
Some of us were sold and purchased, with the rest of humanity, that we are
inferior people... everything negative...and that we all belong a box. Our
ancestors broke free of that box. It’s our responsibility to stay out of it. It’s vital
that we reprogram and instill in our youth that it’s OK to hover in between the
box, that black isn’t confined to a box. That growing up in the projects or growing
up poor does not isolate you to the box nor is it a gateway to jail or prison.
OUR black represents EXECELLENCE, OUR black is embedded in EVERYTHING!
Our BLACK blood is deeply saturated in America’s soil. Our BLACK is deeply
rooted in American history. And like roots we grow in many directions
penetrating through the walls of the box. We NEVER belonged in a box of any kind.
So, STOP buying into the lie and start nurturing OUR gifts; OUR gifted. If they have
creative bones, nurture their creativity, don’t criticize it. If they’re brainy and
enunciate their words, nurture that, don’t criticize it. Be the shoulders they stand
on to get out of the box not the lid closing them in. FEAR will surely rear its ugly
head but tell them to walk through that fear. Help them celebrate and accept
their differences, even if you don’t understand it. JUST DO IT! These are OUR
future leaders, innovators, business owners, educators, lawyers, doctors, and
artists. The rest of the world will try to destroy them and force them into the box.
It’s our responsibility to arm them with confidence and the knowledge to break
free. Keep educating ourselves on OUR history not the history they want us to
believe. There’s success in hovering in between the box. It is not easy, but OUR
history has shown, without question, that it’s ABSOLUTELY DOABLE!
Written by Tonika Yvonne Wheeler