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What Writing a Pandemic Newsletter Showed Me About America

Wired – Patrice Peck: “In April, I started Coronavirus News for Black Folks. It gave me a kind of second sight. I could see where the country is headed—and how blind it’s been….I shut myself in my Brooklyn apartment, binge-reading about virology and venturing out only for groceries and a brisk walk now and then. And what I read keeps making me worry in a particular way: When I learn that people with heart and kidney disease, sickle cell disease, diabetes, and other preexisting medical conditions are at a higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19, I know those conditions are especially prevalent in the Black community. When I start to read about the “essential workers” who will have to stay physically on the job while everyone else locks down—nurses, social workers, home health aides, grocery store and fast food workers—I know those professions are heavily made up of Black and brown women, like my own mother. Plus, well, I’m all too familiar with the wisdom in the ancient Black proverb “When white folks catch a cold, Black folks get pneumonia”—and the chronic social and economic inequities that affect Black health, and the distrust that many of us harbor for a health care system after generations of demonstrated racism. Every now and then, I send the articles I’m reading about the virus to friends and family—almost all of whom have yet to understand the severity and urgency of the pandemic. Even experts know so little about the virus at this point….Mostly, though, what I’m doing is curating. I spend hours poring over the internet, trying to find the most reliable and relevant news about the plague for Black people; each edition of the newsletter contains dozens of links and summaries. I start by publishing every couple of days, then settle into a roughly once-a-week rhythm. I carefully scan Black publications. I run search terms like “African American” + “Black” + “pandemic” + “Covid-19.” And then I present what seems like the most important stuff in one place. It’s pretty straightforward, but there’s something powerful and terrifying about it: To run those particular search terms day after day is to stare down the barrel of all the biggest things coming for America in the summer of 2020. It’s to be a sentinel…”[h/t Brandon Johnson]

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