By Cornell Dews
I couldn’t taste or smell anything for 11 days. My whole body ached. I sweated profusely throughout the night while I tossed and turned trying to sleep. I was so lethargic throughout the day that I could barely walk. In March of 2020, it was confirmed that I had contracted COVID-19. It was so early in the diagnoses of the virus, that no one knew exactly what we were dealing with. The first person that my wife called, after the hospital called to report my positive test result, was our Pastor. She wanted immediate divine intervention on my behalf because we were potentially confronted with a deadly disease that could lead to my death. By the grace of GOD, I prevailed. We prevailed. I don’t take it for granted, knowing that millions of people worldwide died a very lonely death, leaving many grieving family members and loved ones to mourn their loss.
Twelve months after the world we all knew had been changed forever, 120 million worldwide confirmed coronavirus cases and 2.65 million total deaths, we are now confronted with taking vaccines to help combat the virus and regain some sense of “normalcy.” There seemed to have been specific conversations directed solely at Black Americans encouraging us to get vaccinated. Of course they were trying to ease our considerable apprehensions and lack of trust towards a government that hasn’t always done what’s in our best interest (to say the least). Dr. Fauci even went on record saying, “the first thing you might want to say to my African-American brothers and sisters is that the vaccine that you’re going to be taking was developed by an African-American woman.” In homeboy language, that’s saying, “hey, even if y’all don’t trust us, trust her.” And a Black woman was the first person to be vaccinated.
Still, our community lags in comparison to other ethnicities who are getting the shot. Our trust issues prevent us from showing up in droves. Truth be told, we do have great reasons not to for not being forthcoming and trustworthy. I don’t think that can be argued. For myself, the one experiment that immediately came to mind when contemplating being syringed with an unknown vaccination was the four-decade long Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. That experiment caused the death of 128 of its Black participants. Shid, I don’t even get the flu shot because of the Tuskegee Experiment! You heard me? For years, I’d rather take my chances. But, for some inexplainable reason I feel differently about this vaccination. It’s probably because not only was my family impacted by the virus, but I personally know people who died. People died. And now I potentially have the ability to save a life.
I feel a greater responsibility to my community regarding COVID-19. I feel a need to do my part to help us live. So I wear my mask, got my first vaccination shot a week ago, and still practice social distancing. That’s what the professionals are saying we must do to beat this virus. And I’d like to believe them. After the gym this weekend, my brother and I were having breakfast, discussing many things including the vaccine. He has also received his first shot. As we were talking and I asked, “why’d you take the shot”? He said something extremely simple, but very profound. He answered, “Nelly, I’d rather have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.” I said, “damn homeboy, that makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.”
We know it’s been reported that some people died shortly after taking the vaccine. Whether or not the vaccine can solely be attributed to the cause of their death, I don’t know. We’ve been told that oftentimes the same pre-existing health issues that made Black people more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus and succumbing to it initially, were the same reasons they had such a tragic effect to the vaccine. Could this be a lie? I don’t know. Would it be the first untruth that we’ve been told? Definitely not. But at this moment, what’s our recourse?
I’m not big on conspiracy theories. And we have a whole lot of those to go around. I’m more concerned with the application and less concerned with the speculation. We’re at the crossroads right now. What are we going to do? I get my second shot on March 29, 2021. If for nothing else, like my main man said, “I’d rather have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.” Prayerfully we all make it out of this soon. With love. Cornell