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May 20, 2024

The Deadliest Virus

By Frederick Foote

Hey, come over here for a minute. I want you to see all the dead niggers. Now, they may look very much alive, but I can assure you they are the walking dead. I know you don't like me to use the "N"-word, but I can't find any better way to describe my family and me.

Over there. See the tall, strapping, brown-skinned young man surrounded by the four preteens? That's my son, Usain, and the two girls are his daughters, Veda (age ten) and Vaka (age twelve). The two boys are his sister Unika's kids, Powell (age ten), and Clayton (age eleven).

Usain is an internist and well-respected medical researcher. More than that, he's a good father, husband, and citizen. Not necessarily in that order. Kids love him. At most family events, he spends fun time with them. Even teenagers like to hang with Usain. I love seeing the youngsters with him.

At the next table over, look at the serious, light-skinned woman holding court and seizing the floor. That's Usain's sister, Unika, a well-known, but controversial, trial attorney. She mostly handles civil rights and police misconduct cases.

Unika struggles to balance her career and parenthood. She's "in-between domestic partners" at the moment. She and I have our differences. In fact, my daughter has differences with most other family members -- especially her mother, Esther. However, Unika has an exceptional relationship with Esther's mother, Gloria. Those two are as thick as thieves and spend hours gossiping and playing Tonk at Gloria's senior living facility.

So, you think my family looks alive and energetic. You believe they are the very picture of good health. You see them as living the American dream. You say you wish your kids were half as successful. Thank you for your kind words, but I see them differently. All the adults except Esther have hypertension. Medication controls their high blood pressure, but the causes are still there. My parents and Esther's have diabetes, as do Esther and me.

When this coronavirus came along, I started calculating how it would impact my family. It hits them a heck of a lot harder than yours. My family has the underlying conditions that make them highly susceptible to the virus. And that makes it especially deadly for them. This is true for most black families in America. Do you ever think about that?

Oh, you have hypertension and asthma in your family also. I feel for you. I do. But my people are dying at three times the rate of yours. Our hypertension is an epidemic. We are twice as likely to develop high blood pressure as whites are. We live a shorter life span and always have. And if you cared to know that you already would. And if you knew and you cared you would be doing something about it, right?

My wife, kids, grandkids, and I all have first-rate health insurance, as does Gloria. We also have a doctor in the family, and two of my sisters are RNs, but that puts us in more danger rather than less. We are in danger because my kids and siblings care.

Usain volunteers at the free clinic in our old, mostly black, and overwhelmingly poor community. I think the odds are very high that he will contract this virus, and he will bring it home to his family. His wife, Arya's family, is Indian. Arya is a materials engineer. She wants to send their kids back to live with her Brahman parents. Arya thinks they will be safer there than here. She may be right.

Unika's clients are mostly poor, black, and brown people who have had recent incarcerations or are presently in jail or prison. Prisons are breeding grounds for the coronavirus, and the healthcare provided in those settings is meager and subpar at best. Arya wants to send Unika's sons to Kannur too. My grandkids would probably have a better chance in the Indian caste system than in the USA caste system.

Both of my sisters work in inner-city hospitals -- by choice.

Usain says they are a family, and they should stick together. Arya replies that they are not a family if they are all dead. Unika says no, and hell no. Esther agrees with her. I'm on the fence but leaning toward India.

White America still segregates and discriminates against us niggers. In some parts of the Good Ol' USA, niggers are dying from the coronavirus at six times the rate of white people. During the history of black people in this country, the white racist virus has promoted and enforced the discrimination that killed millions of us. And this virus rages with no end in sight.

I'm going to tell my son, the doctor, and my daughter, the lawyer, that they are fighting two viruses -- coronavirus and the white racism virus. I think the odds might be better for their kids in India.

Do you see what I'm talking about now?

What? Do I blame you? Do I hold you personally responsible for the plight of my family? Without a doubt, I do.

Your racism blinds you to our suffering and to your role in it. And even when your eyes are open to facts and dying black faces, your hearts and mind are sealed shut.

Things get worse for us after each disaster, and you gorge on happy laughter.

Go. Get on to wherever you are going. You make me sick to look at you -- and we already have enough sickness here.

Article © Frederick Foote. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-06-29
Image(s) are public domain.
5 Reader Comments
04:29:50 PM
I loved this. If only more could realize the battles we experience aside from coronavirus.
03:44:37 PM
Brava!! Well said.
Cleopatra Allen
06:15:14 PM
Dang, that's good!
07:50:04 PM
Pretty interesting and informative piece re: Coronavirus in America. I'm glad I don't live in America in these times. India might be safer, depending on Arya's caste, if she's Hindi.
04:28:12 PM
Wow deep impact for me. A week ago I found out one of my former employees and her husband died from covid-19. They were only in their fifties. Lived in Detroit. Still stunned.
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