I was watching some show or another on television recently – can’t remember what it was – in which the subject of the long since forgotten-by-now Ebola scare that briefly captured the collective worry of U.S. citizens was recounted. As health experts in our nation quickly moved to contain what they hoped would not become an epidemic here in America – cases that appeared state-side were thoroughly documented. There were only a few, but I distinctly remember something that struck me as odd. And that was the fact that White Americans who were diagnosed (some were people who had gone to Africa to help with Ebola-stricken patients there) – to a man – survived the disease post-treatment. They were placed above swiftly chartered flights – brought back to the U.S. where they received around-the-clock treatment under quarantine – and despite daunting odds – were back on their feet in due time.
On the other hand the Black Americans (that I recall anyway) who were stricken with the very same disease died in their quarantined state in American hospitals. The alternate fates between black and white Ebola patients summarily became the subject of half-hearted jokes in the black community. We were wondering and commenting among ourselves about how: “those white folks were back at work in a week but those “negroes” aint make it out the hospital”!! And just to be clear we did wonder if this was not by design. The sad truth is that that kind of dark comedy or commentary if you will – is a means of laughing to keep from crying. It is a way – on the part of black people – to sooth the pain of always receiving the short end of the stick. That months-long Ebola episode was just a trailer for what has been season after season of a really bad reality TV show that many African-Americans hope will come to an end soon and finally be cancelled.
Another show I recently watched and that I do remember well – aired a couple weekends ago. It was a CNN special chronicling the lives of individuals that the network deemed “Heroes” for what was essentially philanthropic work in under-served communities. I guess for some it may have been heart-warming, but for me it was actually heart-BREAKING. My heart broke because it seemed all of the under-served communities were filled with individuals who looked like me and all the “heroes” didn’t. This dynamic – mind you – is not due to random happenstance nor is it simply the product of a “free-market”. The chief perpetrator of this crime against humanity – this drastic disparity in the fortunes of American lives – is in fact racism and its many ugly faces that have dogged U.S. history. The tenants of white supremacy – and the execution thereof – have ultimately led directly to the scenarios depicted on the CNN Heroes special and that is what CNN ought to be documenting in my opinion.
A discussion based in truth about how we got here to begin with will do far more good than an art program in the hood such as the one described (among other good deeds) during that aforementioned special. While art programs are great – if those who are in a position of power and who produce programs on major network platforms will help to create reality-based content surrounding issues of race – a major shift away from the counterfeit reality that has been perpetuated for centuries will finally begin to transpire in America. We would witness a revolution of the collective conscious of America on both a micro and macro level – and THAT is how we can truly bring about change. And then like a line of dominoes – all the other chips will fall from there…including new art programs in “the hood” incidentally.
It’s true – the whole Ebola victims vs. survivors scenario may have just coincidentally been in the favor of the white people who contracted the virus. Perhaps the black people who got hemmed up just had a string of bad luck? But the problem is that string of bad luck is unfortunately not isolated to that one event. And it is actually more like a rope than a string – one that has strangled communities of color throughout this country’s history. So if Black America was paranoid about the Ebola predicament you’ll just have to forgive us. Because the truth is: far too many negative circumstances have befallen people of color for any reasonable mind to believe that the social ills we face is all on our shoulders or a figment of our imaginations. That is IF one truly wants to see the light.
I look forward to the day when I don’t have to question whether or not people of color are getting a raw deal in ANY circumstance. Where no more bad jokes have to be told at the barbershop to keep from crying. Not sure when we’ll get there… but we WILL get there.
Oreos to go: Article detailing the first American death that was the result of Ebola:
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.