Hi guys! I haven’t written a none-book blog post in a minute, but I had to write something about these crazy times we are experiencing. We are six months into 2020 and what a crazy, chaotic, whirlwind it’s been (and yes I recognize that June isn’t over so really it’s just over 5 months).
I don’t know, but it feels like this time needs to be documented… if only so I could look back and know where I was, who I was, and how far the world travelled away from the normal we all knew. Although I hate to bare my soul in public – I’m a private feeler – I really want to remember this time and these feelings.
It has already been the most transformative of years for me personally. I mean globally there has been a palpable shift in perspective and how we experience life, but there have definitely been personal shifts as well. I think we can all agree that the 2020 chapter in the history books is hefty, exhausting and important.
By March the year had already thrown me for a loop but let’s start December 2019 (which honestly feels like 5 years ago) at the dawn of this new year that everyone was looking forward to. A new decade (or was it?). I remember Danny and I ringing in 2020 with all these plans. It was going to be our year. We had big trips planned – one that was scheduled for March – we were headed to Romania and Italy. Yes, Italy. We were looking forward to making more changes to the house, maybe a new car, more family time, a baby? Maybe. We were very excited in general … to say the least.
Fast forward 6 months to this:
Anyone remember December 2019 when we were so excited for 2020 ‘new decade’, ‘roaring 20’s’. The naievity 😑😩
— Kay 💕 (@TheKayTimes) June 1, 2020
2020: what it feels like to live through the stories you read about in the history books.
— Kay 💕 (@TheKayTimes) June 2, 2020
I mean, not to trivialise any of it, but the tragedy that is 2020 is almost comical, in a Shakespearean way. So much has happened in so little time: Trump started the year of with a bang – literally – when he attempted to start WW3, we lost an icon when Kobe Bryant and his daughter lost their lives in a helicopter accident, Australia’s forest fires threatened to wipe out cities, towns and entire species, there’s a new outbreak of Ebola in some parts of the African continent, killer bees invaded the US, and the pentagon confirmed old video sightings of UFOs which no one cared because a whole pandemic was happening.
COVID-19 entered the chat and nobody invited him.
Speaking of the pandemic, there was just so much loss and death in so little time that it kinda threw the world for a loop. People (quite literally in some cases) started losing their minds. For a period grocery stores were empty, we weren’t allowed to leave the house (or if we were we were scared to – and in many cases still are terrified to), those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs worked from home, so many small businesses closed, hugging and kissing family members became taboo and eating out was a thing of the past. I mean… WTF.
On a slightly more comical note, because humanity even in tragedy is a funny species, suddenly everyone decided they could dance and pride be damned, those dances were (and are) uploaded to an app called TikTok; toilet paper became and arguably still is the most important household item and it’s now globally accepted (and encouraged) to wear masks into a bank. These times are wild.
On a personal level, shit got very real very quickly for me in March. When borders closed everywhere to curb the spread of the pandemic, my husband was locked out of our country (and still is – though this will likely end soon). I spent the most challenging time in my world history away from my best friend. Remember that trip we were supposed to take in March? Well part of the reason we were going was because he needed to renew his passport. That still needed to be done for his residency status here and so while we cancelled my trip, he flew to Europe to renew his passport and to quickly fly back home. Our borders closed a few days after he left and are only now slowly reopening.
I am ok though, considering. I truly am. I need whoever is reading this to know that. Its a few months in a life together and we’ll be fine – but man it was not part of the plan.
Apart from Danny being locked out of the country, my sweet uncle who broke the shackles of discrimination and rose to great success as a black attorney in the UK, the man who inspired me to become an attorney, passed away from COVID-19 in the UK where he migrated for studies many moons ago. No one could go to his funeral. We celebrated his life via Zoom. His children and siblings were, naturally, devastated. I was too. Of all the COVID related things that affected me (and there were many), that was the one that threatened to break me. And if I’m honest, for a moment, it did.
Oh but we are not done. 2020 is the year that keeps on giving. So lets fast forward to present day (I mean COVID is also present day but yanno..) When the pandemic seemed to be the “new normal”, and it appeared, on a global scale, that we were on the cusp of slow release back into society, the Black Lives Matter movement exploded. “Slowly first, then all at once”.
For years there has been protests about police brutality towards black people, particularly black men, in the US. I think however that the pure mental exhaustion of this year meant that as a people, it was all just too much and 2020 was going to be the year of changing the status quo.
When Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down for jogging while black in a white neighbourhood, for a moment it looked like the dormant volcano of exhausted black voices was about to erupt, but it was calmed. Everyone could tell the volcano was active but there was no eruption. Yet. But then, the world watched video footage of a white woman weaponizing her whiteness to instill fear in a black man by threatening to call 911 with a lie… proving that not much had changed since the lynching of Emmet Till. Not a week later, there was a full blown eruption when the world watched video footage of a white murderer in Minnesota, masked as a police officer, pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd for 9 minutes straight as he begged for his life. “I cant breathe” he said, and the murderer persisted. Almost instantly black voices in the US, and globally, along with allies of every other race, rose up to scream out against injustice. Enough was already enough, but then we heard of Breonna Taylor who was gunned down by police in her own home during a raid, and, we were all just collectively exhausted.
I say we, and I mean we, even though I am not American.
Even at the moment of drafting this post, I’m not sure how qualified I am to speak out on this issue. I am very much a black woman, but like I said, I am not an American. I am from the Caribbean and specifically from one of the most multi-cultural countries in the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago. While our population is largely made up of the descendants of African slaves and East Indian indentured labourers, our white, Syrian/Lebanese, Asian, Amerindian, and mixed population is also quite significant. Our national anthem proclaims “here every creed and race find an equal place”. And so, while yes, there is racism here, I can safely say that I do not fear the police shooting me or my black male friends because of the colour of our skin. I do not fear not being able to rise through the ranks to become whatever I want to be – our President is a black female and our Prime Minister is a black male. For the most part, your skin tone does not determine what you can and cannot do here.
That said, I have experienced racism: I was a black girl in an all girls Roman Catholic prestige school, where the white and light skinned kids were treated like first class citizens and I was not. In fact, my group of friends were villain-ised quite often. I have been called an “oreo” because I don’t “act black”. I have been ridiculed for having thick lips (the lips everyone now pays for). I have travelled the world with my husband and watched as people’s suspicion of me faded when they saw that my husband was Caucasian. I have had people stop and stare at me in remote areas of large countries. I have been followed in so many shops around the world.
I am not cocooned in the Caribbean and so it is not lost on me that in my travels, I am no different than Ahmad Aubrey, Breonna Taylor or George Floyd because no one sees my degrees at first sight. They do not see a qualified and successful attorney when they look at me, they see my locs and chocolate skin.
And so while my experience of blackness may not be exactly the same as an African American, I stand with them. We have a shared history of enslavement and degradation because of skin colour. Our ancestors fought the same fight, and made the same journey, they just happened to be on different ships headed for different destinations.
I can’t help but watch with pride as people protest the injustice. (Sidenote and unpopular opinion – the rioting upsets me and I wish the riots and looting would stop – not so much because of the loss of businesses but because I hate that anything is taking away from the message and giving credence to the negative stereotypes, even when many riots are not being started by African Americans. The protesting though? Im down with that all day every day.) Its a powerful statement that in the face of Governments around the world saying “stay apart” because of the pandemic, people are risking life and limb IN SO MANY COUNTRIES(!!) to come together to rip down those walls of injustice against a race. The largest civil rights movement in history they say.
For all its flaws, humanity is still inherently good.
I am so immensely grateful that the hard conversations are happening. Because they need to happen. Between races and within races. They must happen. And make no mistake about it, they are hard conversations to have. Recently, I lost a close friend after having a conversation about race and this was before George Floyd’s death.
I have no patience with racism, but I’ll patiently listen and speak to anyone who is truly ready to talk about what it means to be black in this world. We need to speak about race. Frankly and openly. We need the unnecessary stereotypes to disappear. Because unless we have those conversations and things change (and I’m not talking about just in the US) we can never truly heal and move forward.
I will qualify that statement by saying that while I personally want to have hard conversations regarding race with anyone who is willing, I do not think forcing people to speak up is the way to move forward.
As a black woman, I would prefer that people who want to speak up, speak up. That is the only way I can know what is genuine. I fear that there is a lot of forced and coerced activism by people who genuinely do not feel that way and what we do not need is a false sense of security that others have our back. We need those speaking up to actually have our back.
And that’s where we are today, and that’s how I am feeling, and this is what I want to remember.
I know this post is all over the place and that there was no real point to it other than to say, we are six months into 2020 and I am tired. To be honest, I don’t really have a nice bow to wrap this post up. Globally, we are still in the thick of both Covid and BLM. The uncertainty is still very much alive and well. The thing is though I am still full of hope, because really, what else is left if we don’t have hope. Also, many of the forced changes made because of COVID and the BLM movement were frankly necessary.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. Here’s to hoping that the next half of 2020 is the better half, whatever that means for you and us.