Jalisia A. Goodman –
I remember sitting with my mom and sister, eagerly eyeing the clock while watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel:it was New Years Eve and I had no idea what 2020 would have in store for us. Spring semester began and I was running myself thin between stem classes, Medical Response Unit (MRU), rugby, and other club obligations. I had plans of interning or studying abroad during the summer, eager to learn in a new environment. Spring break could not come fast enough; however, it was not at all what I expected. Covid-19 went from a practice scenario in MRU to a real threat real fast. There were quick goodbyes to friends, plane tickets booked, bags stuffed, and a whirlwind of chaos before I reached home in Ohio. From then on everything stood still.
Then, George Floyd was killed in police custody on May 25th, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My still world began to spin again, except this time it was uncomfortably out of control. I was forced to self-reflect and acknowledge my own privileges growing up in predominantly white neighborhoods and schools. I was also forced to reflect on all of the racist comments and interactions I have experienced over the years. There were so many beliefs and biases I had to unlearn, even as a black person, to truly understand the injustice in our country. With nothing but time on my hands, I began reading about how systemic racism works and what it looks like in black communities, such as property value and how it affects funding for public schools. Armed with knowledge, and personally invested in the Black Lives Matter movement, I looked for ways to contribute.
The streets of my neighboring city Toledo became filled with passionate protesters, invincible police officers, and deadly interactions. My social media feeds exploded with information, opinions, and overwhelming support for Black Lives. At this point I had almost forgotten about Covid-19. The news that once ran stories about the coronavirus 24/7, was now focused on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement. My reminder of the virus came when I wanted to attend the protests and help amplify voices that have been oppressed for too long; however, the risk of catching the coronavirus was, and still is, too great. I would never forgive myself if I spread the virus to my family, especially my mom, who is a dialysis patient. Choosing to be cautious and stay home did not limit my voice or my contributions to the movement. I began to share resources on social media for people to educate themselves about systemic racism, I donated to organizations that support policy reform, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, and I started difficult conversations with my own friends and family.
While these past three months have been incredibly isolating and frightening, I have also been able to read books, watch documentaries, and listen to podcasts for my own enjoyment.
Quarantine has given me a lot of time to think about the world I currently live in and the world I want to live in. After George Floyd was killed I felt hopeless and ashamed. Then, I became empowered and passionate about political, economic, and social reforms. Our country needs to make some big changes and ask big questions about how our justice, healthcare, education, and economic systems are run. I do not have the solutions to end systemic racism, but I cannot wait to be a part of the conversation.
2020 has been said to feel like the end of the world, or even the season finale, but I would like to think it is the beginning of progressive change in a country where racism has been overshadowed for too long. While Covid-19 came as a big shock to many, racism is nothing new to those of us who experience it in our everyday lives. There is little we can control about our new normal during quarantine, but there is so much we can control when it comes to our country’s policies and actions. If there was ever a time for great change to occur in our society’s beliefs it would be now, during quarantine, when all there is to do is think.