Op Ed

Hardy Brown, Sr. | Publisher Emeritus

There is a killer running loose in our community by the name of COVID-19. It is killing Black and Brown people at higher rates than most other groups.  

If the police came to our neighborhood, announced a murderer and rapist was on the loose, and told everyone to stay inside, what would you do?

My question is, do you want to be the next victim of the deadly coronavirus? If not, there are some things you can do to reduce your risks–wear a mask, and a face shield if you want extra protection; and wash your hands frequently…and socially distance as much as possible. Oh, and when it’s made available to you, take the vaccine.

Before I go any further, I am aware of the horrible legacy of the federal Tuskegee Syphilis experiment on Blacks in Alabama from 1932 to 1972 to study how Syphilis spread in a community and the length of time it took to kill those with the disease. Then, after the government found a cure, it was not given to those in the experiment or to the women infected by them, nor were they told about the cure.  

Add to that, the history of Blacks being denied medical care or relegated, as I was, to the basement floor of a hospital with the furnace, boilers and hospital supplies. For me, it was in Kinston, North Carolina in the 1940’s where a White doctor worked on me as my mother prayed to God for His will to be done because I  had stopped breathing. During that time Blacks usually received second-class treatment from the White medical establishment, but one White doctor was able to put all that aside to help save a Black boy dying from lock jaw.

Now, multiply my story by the number of Blacks in America who also sought medical care during the Jim Crow Era and then marry that history with an ignorant, incompetent, racist, lying, non-medically educated White man in the White House who is supported by other racists in the Republican Party who Black People do not trust, who supported a (Warp Speed) process to find a vaccine.

It smells like trouble for Black people and has placed Black Americans between a rock and a hard place as they weigh whether or not to take the vaccine. 

In the meantime, we know COVID-19 is real because many of our friends and family members have died from the virus. Yet some Blacks still want to congregate and not wear face coverings in public because they think COVID-19 does not kill young people. So, they go out and bring COVID-19  back to their homes and infect other family members. Then, they want to “cry” and say “I’m sorry” when their parents and grandparents die because of their recklessness.   

Dr. Anthony Fauci told the National Urban League recently one of the scientists who helped produce the COVID-19 vaccine is a Black female named Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. Fauci was addressing the big elephant in the room, so to speak, that only 14% of Black-Americans trust the vaccine will be safe. Now, I do not know her, but I do know doctors and pharmacists of all races that I trust wholeheartedly.

So, the choice is to help increase our chances of living by taking the vaccine or risk getting COVID-19 and being put in a hospital without any family members to advocate on our behalf, where we will be cared for by people in MASKS and SHIELDS and wrapped in protective clothing while they decide what to do next as they work to keep us alive. And, if you are put on a ventilator you cannot talk—that is a HARD place to be—you are in between the ROCK on the other side. 

I have been in the hospital many times in life-or-death situations; I have seen others in the ICU many times; I have had to make decisions about loved ones as they laid in the hospital; and I have investigated labor grievances of medical staff personnel forced to make split-second decisions while providing care to patients. These are not easy decisions for a person to make but if you decide not to take the COVID-19 vaccination when it is available, this might be your outcome.  

As for me, I will make an educated and informed decision about the vaccination based on information from people I trust to reduce my chances of getting the virus. That is why I take a flu shot every year, take a booster shot for tetanus, pneumonia and other preventive measures as suggested by my doctors and informed by my own common sense. 

It is important to keep in mind however, there is the possibility that 20 years from now an ad may pop up somewhere in the media advising all who took a COVID-19 vaccination 20 years prior they have only 30 days to get in on a damage claim because of adverse side effects. Add to that the efforts by racist Republican senators to hold up any COVID-19 relief bills unless they include immunity for pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits that has raised red flags for many.

I know it is not easy to be in between a ROCK and a HARD place but we have been there before. So, mask up, practice social distancing, and keep washing your hands. It will be a few more months before a lot of us will have to decide about being vaccinated. 

 Hardy Brown Sr. is publisher emeritus of the Black Voice News.