By Beverly Gadson-Birch
It’s amazing how one’s life is dramatically changed at the drop of a hat. Prior to the Covid-19 virus, folks were living the American dream. Folks were on a fast track doing their thing. An average week would be wrapped around worshipping, working, shopping, writing, reading, exercising, dining out, boating, vacationing, date nights, late nights, sporting events and children’s activities. Events were planned weeks ahead as if we knew for certain tomorrow would come. What if tomorrow doesn’t come? What would you do differently if you knew there would be no tomorrow?
The world has fallen victim to a virus that has not only changed our lifestyles but our way of thinking. What we once considered important doesn’t seem as important anymore when compared with almost two million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide and more than 23,000 deaths alone in the United States. With the United States being the superpower that it is, why have we taken the lead in this virus pandemic? The astronomical number of deaths worldwide points to how powerless we really are and gives new meaning to the sanctity of life. The euphemism “here today and gone tomorrow” is real and evident on how quickly death can swallow up so many in a short period of time.
I don’t know about you, but I have never watched as much television in my life as I have these last few weeks. I am simply not a television person. There is a lot to learn from television and the internet. So, here’s what I want to share with you. One of the first things I heard reported on television about Covid-19 is it does not discriminate. The second thing was more whites are being affected. Now, to bring this discussion home! Who flipped the script? Why are there so many African Americans dying? Yes, I am aware of underlying health conditions due to socio-economic factors. I get that! Black and Brown people have always been discriminated against whether it’s health care, employment, education.
In all things, be careful and suspect in receiving care and treatment for the virus. Are we sure that what we are being told is the same thing being told in more affluent communities? How can we be sure that the swabs aren’t introducing something into our system to further weaken the more infirmed? Let’s not forget the shameful 1932 Tuskegee Syphilis study, done at Tuskegee Institute on poor sharecroppers that were promised free health care. According to History.com, “In order to track the disease’s full progression, researchers provided no effective care as the men died, went blind or insane or experienced other severe health problems due to their untreated Syphilis. In 1947, the recommended treatment for Syphilis was penicillin. And, even armed with that information, the men continued to be monitored by health workers but only given placebos such as aspirin and mineral supplements” so they could track the progression of the disease to their demise to see the full effect. The men in the study lived an agonizing death. Even when the men thought they were being treated, they were deceived. It short, it was an experiment!
Let’s be mindful of the past and not have a repeat. Ask questions!! Don’t be the first in line when a supposedly new drug or vaccine is available. How many old schoolers remember Dr. Delano Meriwether, Burke High School graduate? Dr. Delano went on to become an accomplished athlete. Dr. Delano’s father, Wilhelm Meriwether, was one of the most feared principals to serve at Burke High School. Dr. Delano was put in charge of the government Swine flu vaccine program during the outbreak in 1976. Dr. Delano, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Health, was appointed Director of the United States Public Health Service. The goal of the program was to immunize over 200 million people over six months. The program was a disaster. People died! Pharmaceutical companies and doctors did not want to be associated with the program. Dr. Delano was left as the face behind the failure. Information is powerful! I remember this as if it were yesterday. Until this day, I have refused all offers of flu shots. I am sure things have changed since then but I am not going to be first in line. I am not going to be no one’s experiment.
Information is powerful! Once a vaccine or treatment is approved for Covid-19 and once President Trump gets his shot, no placebo, then and only then will I get in line and it will be at the back of the line. Y’all stay safe!