By the time you read this, New York City will have finally emerged from three months of sheltering in. Many people have expressed the desire to return to normal, but the reality is that will not happen. What they will be waking up to is the “new normal.”
I say “new normal” in quotes, because for far too many of us this has been our normal our entire lives.
Because of Corona/Covid19, we have to plan and take precautions before we go outside. We actually have to think about keeping ourselves safe before we head for the door. As a Black woman living in America, I have had to do that from a very young age. I don’t just bound out the door without thinking about the spaces I will be in that day and how I will prepare myself to act in those spaces.
Yes, I am always going to be who I am, but I am cautious when I have to be in spaces dominated by white people. There can be a price to pay for not knowing how to play by the rules of the dominant culture. Giving much forethought to how we look, speak, act and share is a normal part of the daily experience of many POC. We are raised to be careful about how we present ourselves out in the world, which brings me to my next “new normal.”
Corona/Covid19 has forced us to have some grown-up and scary conversations with our children that we hate having with them at young ages, and frankly at any age. As a Black mother and wife, I have sat by Warren’s side as we have had the painful conversations with our sons at a young age about how they are viewed as Black boys (at the time) and later, young Black men in America.
We have had to try to assuage their grief and fear, and with pained hearts and gritted teeth work to instill HOPE even as we taught them the rules of engagement particularly around police officers.
This talk is normal conversation in far too many households of color.
We now have been asked to wear masks by government and health officials in order to ensure that others are “safe from you.” This is the epitome of the Black experience. We are asked to wear masks to make ourselves less threatening and more palatable to dominant white culture. Oh yes, our hair, our facial expressions, our passion, our diction, our pain, our bodies, our movement, our very existence have all been held up as threatening or unwelcome or unprofessional or down right strange.
It’s not just us, POC with accents are judged as unintelligent, Asians are seen as exotic, Native Americans as uncivilized or are fetishized too. POC wear masks regularly because we must save our own lives on a daily basis.
I actually challenged my On The Matter of Race participants, White people who are on the journey of learning about race in order to raise their voices about it to come up with as many Corona/Covid19 “new normal” comparisons as they could and it was powerful.
I will leave you with one more and then issue you the same challenge to come up with your own and send them to me.
Corona/Covid19 was here long before we were awakened to it. Racism was here long before George Floyd, but so many White people are now being awakened to it. Some people tried to sound the alarm about Corona/Covid19, but people did not want to listen. Same thing for racism.
Some people are asking is Corona/Covid19 all we are going to be talking and reading and hearing about now? Same thing for racism. Probably, is my answer to the former. Definitely to the latter because you see, this once again is your “new normal” but was and still is our everyday, EVERY DAMN DAY life, long before Corona.
If you want to do the work with me, I am starting another session of my group for White people who would like real leadership, guidance, knowledge and calling you in to look at your stuff, but also helping you get out there to have these conversations at home, in the workplace, at school, in your communities, on social media or with those family members who just don’t get it. Here’s the link… https://theconflictcloser.com/matter-of-race