The COVID challenge is revealing a lot of rips in the social fabric of America, and the chief architect of that rift is coming from the very top of this country; from the Oval Office. President Donald Trump has been the focal point of this pandemic since it touched down on these shores, basically due to his initial inaction and lack of planning. He has dragged his feet and as a result, the country that was supposedly on a trajectory of being great again has found itself at the top of another kind of heap; we have the greatest number of people impacted by COVID of any single country in the world!
No doubt, the COVID pandemic is one of the most important situations that we have faced in modern America, and because of that, it is the perfect platform for schisms to develop between opposite camps of all types. One of these schisms is between two different groups of Black people: the “maskers” and the “un-maskers.”
The seeds of this issue are being sown in a sea of disinformation. The open defiance of stay-at-home requests first surfaced nationally in Michigan where armed citizens (many seen as white supremacists) stormed the state capital insisting that the state open up so that people can work and shop again; so that they can regain their “rights.” This last point has found itself firmly entrenched in new attitudes expressed by a certain group of Black resistors.
The schism that has become apparent in the Black community is that of adamantly bucking authorities around compliance about how to address the COVID pandemic. Several inflammatory videos surfaced which created huge doubts about the reality of the pandemic, and the result encouraged some Black people to ignore pandemic-fighting strategies like wearing masks and staying at home. In fact, many of the agitators are thumbing their noses at the idea of Shelter-in-Place with the accusation that it is a ruse to control people and to take away their rights.
One very sad incident regarding masks occurred when a Black security guard was shot down in cold blood by the husband of a woman who refused to wear a mask in the store where the security guard worked! Both the victim and the shooter were Black. This is just one demonstration of the fact that there is a growing resistance to masks.
New articles have surfaced challenging the efficacy of masks, and some are even saying they are harmful due to carbon dioxide poisoning that can result from wearing them. Moreover, some anti-maskers are calling Blacks “cowards” who wear masks and are complying with requests to fight the virus accusing them of being controlled by “fear.”
We must remember that this conversation is being waged in a community that is disproportionately represented among COVID fatalities. Another conversation is that the pandemic is basically a “plandemic initiated by those who want to force citizens to get vaccinated.”
The split between Blacks who are fighting the pandemic and those who refuse to cooperate with mitigation strategies is really unfortunate. The sea of fake news is having a deleterious impact in our communities. Frankly, those Blacks who are using shaming tactics to encourage Black people to eschew social distancing, mask wearing, and honoring Shelter-in-Place requests amounts to them being internal enemies of the community.
Under the guise of opposing a conspiracy to destroy the community, the Black anti-maskers (who can be seen as agent provocateurs) are encouraging Black people to ignore all of the COVID mitigation strategies which can, no doubt, result in even more fatalities than are being suffered presently.
What those who are swallowing this propaganda need to understand is this: it makes no difference how the pandemic started or what conspiracy theories are true. The only thing that currently matters is that of addressing the immediate issue staring us in the face – the reality of a killer virus that is ravaging our communities that must be stopped.
They must understand that the distancing measures are not just for exercises sake; the goal is to protect self and others in order to curtail the spread of the virus. Those who don’t comply are demonstrating a malevolent selfishness and disregard for others no matter what they say, and to follow these naysayers can result in self-destruction! A Luta Continua.
As one of Chicago’s Black newspapers with a citywide distribution, our mission is to provide readers with factual news and in-depth coverage of its impact in the Black community. The Rona Reports are stories of Black resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Rona Report is made possible by the Chicago COVID-19 Journalism Fund, which is a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
First published in the print edition of the Chicago Crusader Newspaper on May 23, 2020.