Tuesday morning, I had the first of my two scheduled vaccinations for the coronavirus. I was apprehensive, at first, but once I passed the first phalanx of civilian volunteers, I was met by a battery of fresh-faced Marines, herding, asking me questions, screening me to avoid exacerbating any of my existing medical conditions, and finally injecting me with the vaccine. Two things made me aware of the times we live in, the sparse numbers of black people in the Philadelphia Convention Center vaccine site, and the members of the Asian and Pacific Islander community who—obviously chose to huddle together as if to protect each other. I worried for two communities Tuesday morning. My own [African Americans] who have the horrors of experimental medical history keeping us away from the vaccine and the Asian-American Pacific Islander community, for some of whom the fear was palpable; not of the vaccine but their fellow citizens.
It occurred to me that both the black and Asian communities have something in common, a racial profile that renders us invisible in a white majority. I am sure that quandary exists for lots of other communities of color but recent events have made our invisibility a lethality. The assertion by white politicians that black skin is inherently frightening or anyone who looks Chinese is responsible for the world pandemic is deadly. That lethality has been visited on men and women in the black community over and over. George Floyd was invisible until his persona was perceived as a threat, and death was imminent. Lots of members of the black community have a George Floyd or a Breonna Taylor story to tell. For years, our invisibility—writ-large has permitted the murders of our families and loved ones.
The AAPI was front and center in a House hearing to combat the vicious violent attacks on their families and friends and strangers. Much like white citizen counsels of the old south Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) unleashed a veiled threat during a hearing aimed at a frightened community on the edge. After reports of beatings of elderly members of the Asian community, constant threats, and an exponential rise in violence targeting the AAPI community; Mr. Roy found the need to repeat what he claimed was an old Texas saying, “ Find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree” stated Roy amidst his anti-Chinese rhetoric. It was as if the Asian members of the committee were invisible.
In a horrific sense of like-minded absurdity Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office said a day earlier, “I spoke with investigators, they interviewed him [the killer] this morning. And they got that impression, yes–he understood the gravity of it.” Baker continued “And he was pretty much fed up and had been, kind of, at the end of his rope. And yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did,” said Baker. Could any act or words be more demeaning than to otherize a group so thoroughly that you make their humanity invisible and only mentioned them as a justifying motive for their killer?
By the way, my second shot is April 6th.
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