“Thank God we don’t look like what we’ve been through.” My mother programmed my heart and mind with these words as a teenager. It was her favorite saying; especially after overcoming major trials in her life. I reflect on these words as I watch the COVID-19 pandemic bring tragedy after tragedy in the lives of Black America. Nobody saw it coming. None of us were prepared. People are dying. Livelihoods hang in the balance. We’ve definitely taken a beating, but not every whipping is a wash. What am I saying? Some of life’s most beautiful lessons are taught in the ugliest of classrooms. And though Professor COVID is still teaching, here are a few valuable lessons that I pray we have learned so far. If we take full advantage of the lessons we learned from this pandemic maybe we won’t look like what we’ve been through on the other side of this global crisis.
1). LESS IS MORE: Being quarantined deprived us of many things that we previously thought we couldn’t live without. Live sports, fast food, hair and nail salons, nightclubs, etc. Being forced to live without the things we love reminded us of exactly how little we need in order to survive and be happy. Being in quarantine is “noise cancellation” at its finest. In cancelling out the noise in our lives we were given an opportunity to do some soul searching. In reality, our most valuable asset is “each other.”
2). THE VALUE OF OUR IMMUNE SYSTEMS: The coronavirus’ impact on Black America brought to light a real state of emergency; our pre-existing health conditions. Infectious diseases feed on weakened immune systems and no people on planet Earth were more vulnerable than Black America. We must take our health seriously, eat healthy food, exercise and think better thoughts if we are to survive future pandemics. We can never achieve Black power in poor health.
3). NO SUCH THING AS JOB SECURITY: The fall of the American economy has left over 33 million people out of work. It literally happened overnight. Black people who have been comfortably feeding their families for years have been laid off and are unsure what to do next. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad advised his people decades ago; “do for self or suffer the consequences.” His words “hit different” in the midst of this crisis. The only permanent jobs we have are the ones we create for ourselves.
4). THE USELESSNESS OF MATERIAL THINGS: The COVID-19 pandemic put millions of families in survival mode. I’ve witnessed lines, as long as 7 miles, of people in search for food. As money becomes more scarce, we are forced to look at the fancy cars, designer clothes, flashy jewelry and expensive purses we wasted money to purchase. These things are of no good to us in a time of crisis. You cannot feed your children that Gucci belt.
5). REDISCOVERY OF THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY: Stay-at-home orders forced us to spend long overdue time with our families. We did not realize how disconnected we had become until we were given the order to “social distance” from the rest of the world. Strengthening Black families is the solution to so many of the problems we face. The bonds that we have rebuilt over the past months must never be broken again. Ever!
6). THE IMPORTANCE OF INDEPENDENT BLACK MEDIA: The dissemination of accurate information is critical in a time of crisis. It could mean life or death. There were so many misconceptions, false rumors, conspiracy theories and lies about coronavirus via social media. Unfortunately, it may have cost some people their lives. We must strengthen independent Black media so that accurate, well-researched information is fed to our community; especially in the midst of future global pandemics. We unanimously agree that the mainstream media cannot be trusted. We must control our own narrative.
7). DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: We must never get caught with more luxuries than survival necessities in our homes. Seeing people fight over toilet paper in grocery stores was a sure sign of panic. The panic did not come from fear of contracting coronavirus. Our community panicked because we were not prepared. If the pandemic is teaching us nothing else, it is teaching us to be wise like the ant and store up what we need to survive. Make sure you have several months’ supply of water, food, first-aid, etc. Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.
8). THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING BLACK BUSINESSES: No business community has been hit harder by the pandemic than Black-owned businesses. No business community is having a harder time accessing government relief than Black-owned businesses. If we redirected every dollar that we could; spending those dollars with Black owned businesses, we could save those institutions ourselves.
9). WE MUST GROW OUR OWN FOOD: Nothing causes panic like the fear of not having food to eat. With the fear of food shortages and prophetic predictions of famine on the horizon many people used their time in quarantine to start urban gardens to grow their own food. This is a real power move. If we wish to improve the health of Black America and strengthen our collective immune system, we must control the production of what we eat.
10). EDUCATING OUR CHILDEN: Professor Corona is also teaching us how ill-prepared America’s educational system was/is for a crisis of this magnitude. Black children are being forced to “learn” from home what most of them weren’t even learning in person. Public schools get paid by the “head count” so they need students to “log in” at all cost. It may be effective in some instances, but it’s a joke in most cases. We must organize ourselves and take responsibility for the proper education of our children. They deserve better.
These are just a few lessons taught by Professor Corona that I think Black America can benefit from. Class is not over. We still have a long way to go. She’s still at the blackboard. Please share with us some of the lessons you’ve learned while under quarantine during this pandemic. God bless.