So, this is the new normal. Under lockdown, we wear our masks, wash our hands, and scroll the days away while waiting for Miss Rona to see herself out. But there’s no need to be lonely while alone: DADDY is putting the social in social distancing for our QUARANTINE issue.
Content warning: this piece discusses gun violence
Leather saddles, ten-gallon hats, and snake-skin boots. If you want to ask me about these things when I tell you that I’m from Texas, please don’t. Matter of fact, don’t ask me about a few other topics either like racism, guns, and Trump. These might seem like valid questions, but whenever I hear the same thing time and again from white Brits and Europeans I immediately tune out. The bullshit is always the same and no matter how many different ways they ask me, their basicness comes through like skid marks in undies.
But since they won’t stop asking, here’s a sample of why their questions are really basic.
For white Europeans, the United States might as well be Mars considering how alien the concept of “white supremacy” sounds to them. As a Black American Southerner from Mississippi and Texas, my only response to this first of the basic ass questions is: “What’s racism like in America? The same as it is here…”
Racism, like any other form of oppression, can't be reduced to data points alone. Even though the US outranks the UK in terms of police brutality and incarceration rates, in other sectors such as higher education the UK gets a shiny golden #1 sticker for continuing white supremacy.
It wasn’t until 2018 – two-zero-one-fucking-eight – that Olivette Otele became the first Black woman to be made Professor of History in the entire thousand-fucking-years of British universities. From 2016 to 2017 there were only 25 Black women and 90 Black men among 19,000 professors across the UK. At my uni there are only three in all of the humanities and soon to be two because I’m one of the muthafuckas finishing my PhD.
I’m not a Republican by any means. I don’t have the mental stamina to twist the facts (looking at you Candace Amber Owens) or the internalized self-hatred (still looking at you Candace Amber Owens...) to vote for the Cheeto-in-Chief, but I’m not a hard left, down-for-the-cause Democrat against gun ownership either. This is my second-hated basic ass question because it assumes that minorities can’t be legal gun owners. I agree that some people shouldn’t have access to guns and some guns shouldn’t be accessible to the people. But mass disarmament? Hell-to-the-naw!
To be very clear: I am for stronger gun control laws, but guns have always been part of my life. This has been in all of the negative ways you can imagine as someone who has lost family members due to gun violence and nearly been shot myself, but also positive ways you probably can’t, like bonding with my father. No one needs to remind me that the majority of gun victims are Black or that the likelihood of unarmed Black civilians being shot and killed by the police is five times higher than unarmed white civilians. These are just a few of the many other dangers, which is why my family of legal gun owners taught me from a young age how to own and use one properly.
I also know that even though the Second Amendment applies to all Americans and Republicans claim to support the Second Amendment, Ronald Reagan passed the Mulford Act restricting gun rights as a direct response to armed patrols of Black Panthers in California cities. More recently, legal gun owner Philando Castile was shot to death in his car while reaching for his gun permit. I can’t fully explain why guns are still, and may always be, a thing in America, but saying that no one should be able to own a gun is an extreme reaction to extreme cases of people walking around with AR-15s and other weapons from Call of Duty.
I remember the morning train ride the day a reality star won the White House. I was still living in Midwood, Brooklyn. That morning, the day after he won, had to be one of the most silent rides I’ve ever had on the Q-line. I remember a young white girl in a blue felt coat with a Hillary “I'm With Her” button on the lapel, holding her Starbucks latte and looking into it as if the world had fallen into a piping hot pool of lava.
I was elated.
Not because I was rooting for the Apprentice or because I wasn't with her (I wasn't with her), but because the white liberal bubble of New York City had been popped and exposed to the reality of their massively racist and white supremacist country. This reality had never dissipated for the Black minority; especially not for the ones in the Deep South like me used to Confederate flags and KKK parades.
When Europeans ask me how an overtly racist, sexist politician from the upper class got elected (sound familiar, Britain?) in this supposed post-racial era they don’t really want to know about America’s history. They just want to gloat in its demise like an episode of House of Cards. I wish I could tune out of the series finale, but ignoring Trump isn’t possible. He affects too many people’s lives and that’s why I hate it when non-Americans remind me of the shitty thing he did last week as if everything he’s done his entire life hasn’t always been shitty except for maybe making white liberals feel for a few years what the rest of us have been feeling for a few centuries.
I know he’s shitty. He knows he’s shitty. Three years later some of the people who voted for him probably know it too. Stop centering every conversation around him just because I’m American. America has had loads of other shitty presidents and even though I liked Obama’s two terms, I’d much rather talk about the shitty things he did *cough* drone strikes *cough*. That would at least mix things up for a bit. And finally not be so basic.
It wasn’t my time to Bareback that Whyte horse into the bright blue sky.
It’s been me and Miss Rona isolated in my Harlem apartment since March 9th. I’m sharing my story to hopefully make sure that we are taking this seriously. Two people I was in close contact with died from complications of Rona last week. Sometimes we need a familiar Coloured face to make a real problem Realness. Cause Rita and Tom Hanks just didn’t do it for me, but God bless them in their recovery as well.
On March 8th I was out dancing in Brooklyn with a friend from Berlin celebrating my birthday, but my friend spent the night with me because she noticed I wasn’t feeling well.
I had a meeting on the 9th and I tried to keep it moving. Eventually the person I met with caught Rona and another friend I invited to that party showed symptoms. Do you see how this works? These Brooklyn juke joints never got no hand soap...
I went to my primary care physician on the 14th, and they wouldn’t give me a Rona test, but they swabbed the hell out of my nose for an “influenza” test. When that test came back negative on the 16th they “deduced” that I had Rona. I wish I was making this up but I’m not. I have receipts.
By that time I already knew Rona intimately. She gave me night sweats, dry cough, fever and body aches. I’m not a sickly gyrl because I’m from Grade A Cotton Plantation African en-Slaved stock – a nice thick Buck ready for breeding, as they say –, but I couldn’t even stomach water. My body was fatigued, dehydrated and starved. All I could do was lay down and try to sleep, but my dreams became a bit too vivid when my deceased Great Aunties paid me a visit. Being a Southern, Spiritual and reformed Church Qween it wasn’t scary, but I took notice. I asked myself: are my Aunties coming to make my cross over journey easier?
Is that why they’re feeding me pound cake and lemonade?
It wasn’t until my high school band director appeared in my dream that shit got real. Back in my hometown, the band director was also the local mortician, but since he died a few years ago – and I didn’t attend his funeral – I was like, “it’s a wrap, Rona got me.”
Sidenote: I’m not making light of the gravitas of my situation or Rona in general, but I was alone in hallucinating states of unconsciousness, and I could feel my body giving up. Death doesn’t scare me cause I’m Covered by the Blood, but if something is going to take me out, I at least want the truth of my passing for my New York Times obituary.
On the 18th I went to the ER because my breathing was short and I felt something pulling on my lungs. That’s where I received the most inhumane and weirdest treatment.
Once I finally convinced the triage nurse that I had Miss Rona, they rushed me to a separate waiting room with the other Rona gurls. We all sat there with our various degrees of the illness just looking at each other. It took over an hour for me to get a private “room” no bigger than a shower with a sink and computer Skyping the doctor in from heaven. He asked basic questions while the screen monitored me, but I couldn’t lay down because I was in an office chair.
About three hours later a nurse in a super stark white space suit brought me a Tylenol, but she spilled half the cup of water on me. When my body temperature began to rise I took off my coat, and that’s when I realized that what I thought was air conditioning sporadically pumping air into the room was possibly oxygen. No one explained anything to me until hour seven when the doctor Skyped back to see that I was half awake with my legs thrown over the chair trying to get comfortable. I immediately saw his bewilderment at my choice of outfit for the ER. It was like a Tim Gunn stare, not shady but fierce.
He even ordered an x-ray for my lungs because he thought I might have pneumonia, but I didn’t. Around hour nine or ten he said he could give me a prescription for the fever and nausea, but that I would have to wait it out at home. When I tried to ask for the location of the nearest pharmacy, all Nurse Karen wanted to do was shame me by shouting: “Go straight home and quarantine for the rest of your life!”
The first blessing was the pills they prescribed.
The second blessing was that I waited until I got home to take them.
As soon as I swallowed they started a hard reset of my entire system. Alone on my bathroom floor for two long nights I watched as everything I had eaten this year came pouring out of me. It was worse than a Pentecostal demon purge. Those magic pills cleaned me out from every orifice until after four or five days the fever broke, the nausea subsided, the cough disappeared, and my dreams went back to normal.
Maybe I did need a purge. Maybe we all need a little rebirthing and a fifth chance at life, but I’m here to inform you gurls that Rona is real and not at all cute. I’m not a doctor, but for two days at Morehouse I was pre-med, and I ain’t never seen under any microscope a virus with red hair. Who dyes their hair red? Someone in their hoe phase. And Miss Rona is an easy-free-freak jumping on every Tom, Dick, Harry, Caitlyn and Twan, so listen to your Mommas and stay y’all black asses at home.
I keep asking myself:
How did I get it?
Did I really have it?
Did I carry it in my beard?
Am I caught up in the hysteria?
Was Nurse Karen just having a bad day?
Did my doctor have a fetish for boys in panties?
Do black lives really matter through Rona’s eyes?
The bottom line is I had something, the healthcare I received was both demeaning and deplorable, and all I can do now is focus on healing.
Sharing this publicly is helping me process a traumatic month. After posting on Instagram, I discovered that nine other people at the party I attended all caught Rona or have/had various levels of symptoms including urgent care and hospitalization. Five other friends reached out to me about suspected Rona symptoms in January and February when there were no tests available and we were all living like we were free, white and 21.
Please pay close attention to what is going on in the spiritual realms of your lives cause all these systems have always been broken and we need this time to sit down and re-center.
I know that I’m going through major PTSD from this, but are y’all really still trying to go to church, get your hair done, and keep some dick appointments?
Shit is realer than anyone knows, so I’m gonna ask you like Miranda Priestly: “Why is no one ready?!” This isn’t a run-through. It’s the real live show. Thanks to everyone who sent benevolent offerings or who dropped food and packages at my door and ran, I’m able to share my experience from the frontline and this side of heaven. Too many Black and Brown LGBTQAA people leave us in hurting silence and mystery, never getting the chance to fully tell their stories. I’m deeply saddened by the deaths from Miss Rona. Please check in on the gurls.
If NYC wasn’t prepared, I don’t know how the rest of your parishes look. Regardless of my health I’m going further into isolation to stay sane. If anyone wants to host me in a field in the middle of nowhere after my medical quarantine, I can clean and cook while starting my new cult. It’ll be just me in my hats listening to Soundcloud mixes of techno and Mahalia Jackson. If you’re serious about joining please DM an artful nude.
And don’t forget the hat.
“Everything must change. Nothing remains the same.” – Nina Simone
“This life be over soon. Heaven lasts always.” – Ms. Celie
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