It creeps up on you like a snake in the dark. You’re unaware that it is hiding in a corner, curled up under a blanket, determining the best time to strike; and then it bites you and you have no idea what happened. The poison has seeped into your system and you are not sure what to do and you go numb. I am not speaking of a literal snake bite, but rather a new, highly infectious bite that causes numbness. I just realized I have been bitten.
When I was first quarantined in early March, following strict Stay At Home orders here in New Jersey, I began to realize things were really going to change and we would never return to the normal we once knew. However, I was encouraged as we watched heroic Frontline workers and political leaders like Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Governors Cuomo (NY), Whitmer (MI) and Hogan (MD) stand their ground while the amazing Dr. Fauci soothes us with his truthfulness and advice – we would be okay. And then I got bit. The feeling of being overwhelmed, the realization that overt racism is worse than ever and the democracy that I cherished and took for granted is on life support.
People had to stand out in the cold to vote in Wisconsin and 19 of them we struck with the virus. A young black man was shot while jogging, a black woman was killed in her own bed, domestic violence and child abuse are both up… my reaction, numb! Wow, is this still going on? Somebody… Do… Something! I need some potato chips.
There is a 4-hour line at a food bank in Texas, millions face ‘food insecurities’, i.e. people are hungry and cannot feed their kids! Farmers are throwing away food – the supply chain is broken. Numb… I hope they figure it out, what a shame, we should not buy so many groceries.
First Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – disaster, big corporations got millions, small and medium size businesses were gut punched. The banks got billions in fees… now I am both numb and furious. The media outlets publicly shamed companies into giving the money back. However, the new guidelines came out and erased most of that tough talk and many smaller companies are still waiting to apply. Numb, no one is surprised.
Friends and gig workers are going out of business, frontline workers dying, meat packers were ordered to go back to work, people crying on the news every night… double numb. I need to get out of my house and turn off the news. I need to go on a field trip outside of my house.
There are men standing in the balcony of the Michigan state capitol with huge guns. I must be dreaming. I can’t get the size of the guns out of my mind. I can’t sleep. Numb… beyond belief… I prayed for Governor Whitmer, please do not let anyone hurt her.
And last but not least, 100,000 people will die by June… Numb… A glass of wine is in order.
I don’t have the energy to march, write a letter, or organize. I keep thinking, is this not my America, I want to wake up.
And then it happened – I got a shot of the antivenom… the weather hit 75 degrees in New Jersey, people are out everywhere wearing masks and greeting each other; a sense of community has returned. Meat packers, Frontline workers and concerned citizens are speaking up and fighting back. California Governor Newsom and hundreds of others are leading the way for a mail-in ballot program and the media is covering every ounce of some of the most horrific racial injustices occurring daily. The second round of the PPP reached a lot more women and minorities and there is a host of emergency loans and grants now being offered.
My energy is back, and the numbness is fading. I have turned off cable news and begin catching up on reading, writing thank you notes and reaching out to people I have not spoken to in years… snakes bite and betrayals happen but antivenoms are very powerful. I am Dunn Talking