You know that feeling? That deep and nagging emotion that never holds a truly particular name, but you just can’t shake it. The majority of America is nearly one month into being urged to stay inside of their homes due to COVID-19, a worldwide sickness…a pandemic that seemed to drop from the sky and turn everyone’s lives, plans, and dreams inside out. A blanket of fear has covered and changed what was once a bustling and extremely busy population into a now slow moving, mask wearing, toilet paper hoarding mass of turtles. I’m not here to contribute any facts or rants because I’m one of the Americans that are quite numb and confused as to what is going on. The few occurrences that I decided to venture out were disturbing and too irritable for comfort. There are only a handful of people allowed in grocery stores, store clerks are acting in the likeness of tyrannous nurses yelling at everyone to stand six feet away from each other in line, which is usually marked by the various colored tape they’ve placed everywhere for measure.
As if things weren’t already complicated and impersonal, it now feels as if things are leaning toward the once outlandish predictions of science fiction movies. Schools are planning to continue education from the comfort of online classrooms at home, court dates, important city and county locations, the DMV, tag renewals and overall socializing are planning to be done electronically only or at least until May 31st. I am an intelligent individual, but when something this serious takes over in a short amount of time, I’m always in the shadows for about a week or so before I speak on it or blog it. I feel it’s better to let the facts manifest than ever to state an opinion based on Tweets, Wikipedia solid facts, or other people’s frustrations. So here are a few things I’m just constantly questioning and that I have personally observed (based on fact) since the pandemic has spread.
1. Toilet paper hoarding??
“On the one hand, [the response is] understandable, but on the other hand it’s excessive,” Taylor, a professor and clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia, told CNN. “We can prepare without panicking.”
What I have been the most confused by since the pandemic began is the toilet paper hoarding. Americans have been doing an extreme overkill on buying nothing other than…toilet paper. I’ve been trying to figure out if COVID-19 entails the symptoms of chronic diarrhea. Maybe it’s to mummify themselves in protection from mucus and germs, but either way…it’s irritating. Those with an I.Q. higher than 20 should know that running out of toilet paper will never be the end of the world once it becomes logical you have actual soap and water inside of your home. If every single roll of toilet paper ceased to exist on Earth I feel as if there would be this disappointing mass of people screaming because they have no idea what to do if they decide to defecate. While the rest are taking showers and wondering what everyone’s so upset about. In reality, they are creating issues for those of us who know this fact and would just like to purchase a pack or two of toilet paper like logical citizens…only to find the shelves completely empty thanks to those with two carts full of toilet paper all because they went into an epic panic.
It’s not only pointless, but its displaying the selfishness of those whom possibly never took the time to use that much toilet paper in the first place. I saw other people standing around in search of just a couple of packs of toilet paper due to empty shelves and an individual with a cart full of it wouldn’t even spare one with an expression of “tough luck” written all over their face. Nothing of importance is being bought in bulk and missing from the shelves, benefits such as medications (i.e. cold remedies, preventatives, and first aid kits), safety supplies like radios, light bulbs, laundry detergent, maybe even Pedialyte…but TOILET PAPER?? I wish the best of luck and health to those with houses full of toilet paper, and cabinets void of any antibacterial Dial soap. May God have mercy on their souls.
“It’s all due to this wave of anticipatory anxiety,” Taylor said. “People become anxious ahead of the actual infection. They haven’t thought about the bigger picture, like what are the consequences of stockpiling toilet paper.”
-Steven Taylor. Author of “The Psychology of Pandemics”
2. Nobody Knows What Really Caused It
I’ve heard guesses on the cause of COVID-19, from the government creating it in order to effectively depopulate Asia to it already being in existence and being enhanced to cause panic and distract from the election. There has even the suggestion of a monkey in some foreign country causing the virus, then somehow it spread from person-to-person by travel. First it was said animals could not contract the virus, now a lion at a New York Zoo has the virus, thanks to his handler, and it’s now discovered that pets have the possibility of passing it around. There are new updates everyday and no matter how calm they appear, I honestly believe no one FACTUALLY knows anything.
Fingers are being pointed in several places and conspiracy theories are at an all time high. Upon visiting a package store to grab some “spirits” for my spirits, an old man slides up to the register with a concerned head shake in an attempt to start a conversation and says, “You just look smart and like you have something to say about all of this going on!” Face full of confusion I answer with, “What do you mean?” With another shake of his head and a serious expression he says, “Can you tell me what’s going on around here with all this coronavirus stuff.” I chuckled and paid for my stuff saying, “I tell you what, when you figure it out, please come and let me know.” He laughs but then proceeds to go into the real bulk and point of this conversation. “I’ll tell you what’s going on and what they’re doing!” He says now with confidence. “The government is going to change the currency and it’ll no longer be the American dollar! That’s where the 2 trillion dollars they just pulled out of their ass came from! Money is going to be all digital!” I looked at him with a smirk before walking away. I mean, who’s to say his point isn’t valid? Or anyone’s for that matter? Can we truthfully tell each other what’s going on? No. Think of what you already know right now besides numbers of cases and death tolls? Facts are missing and holes are being formed in the facts.
Right now, we are on strict orders to venture out for only essentials. Like toilet paper (ha ha), prescriptions and household items. I am a resident of Alabama, which happened to be the very last state to confirm any cases out of the entire country. We are now at 2,241 confirmed cases and 65 deaths. I’m not sure about the cause of it here, but it’s most being blamed on travel and person to person contact. I never believe the exact cause of the pandemic will be discovered, but upon looking at any cleaning product with the ability to kill 99.9% of germs, the coronavirus can be found on the list of illnesses on the back. This makes me ask even more questions, which then just gives me a headache! What are some of your opinions on the cause and the cure?
3. Most People Can’t Stand Themselves
What do you love about yourself? I’ve discovered through social media and social distancing that a lot people CAN NOT stand to be around themselves for too long. People are on literal pins and needles just waiting to get back to the bars, with friends, and outside of their loneliness so they can feel something, literally anything besides silence and the rhythmic boredom of their own breathing. There wasn’t very much thought put into what would happen for some people if they could no longer interact with the world; and the reality is life altering for most. We can no longer slither onto a bar stool with the freedom of ordering a cold and delicious draft beer (sigh). Through this beautiful and blissful spring weather, we are void of music festivals, public alcohol tastings, barbecues, and even simple park time for children. All that is social and gave us comfort and routine has been snatched from beneath us too quickly.
Every blog and news segment offers new suggestions to beat the complacency of quarantine; ironically board games, scavenger hunts, and cleaning up are a few they’ve thrown out. I believe the affirmation of most individuals loving themselves becomes transparent when it needs to be proven. We aren’t confined in boxes, cells, or underground prisons…just the absolute and safe comfort of our own homes, with our things, yet it’s so apparent that rules create anxiety and people would rather be out in the world with friends where the danger is than to seethe alone. I understand there are both introverts and extroverts, I’m hoping this time helps extroverts slow down and appreciate the essence of hanging with themselves. The beauty in being confined is being left alone with the person who matters most…YOU. Being confined and becoming more personal with family and significant others wouldn’t hurt either. I have the believe in slowing down to really look at yourself, and analyzing your flaws, as well as your positives.
4. Little Proof Raises Reasonable Doubt
Nobody wants to be sad about something as serious as this. I’ve been praying daily for my loved ones to remain in perfect health and dodge the entire pandemic. As if things aren’t bad enough, I’d never like to possess the addition of grieving because someone didn’t happen to wash their hands and catch it. Honestly, I know not one soul who’s been diagnosed, nor does anyone that I know speak of anyone. So, forgive me if it’s there’s a little doubt about everything being as serious as they make it. As with all humans, when something isn’t presented directly and there’s no legit proof, then we start to question things. Then, come the conspiracies theories, government bashing, and assumptions of them trying to destroy the entire human raise for their own selfish gain. I’m not stuck on one well known reasoning and factor of everything going on, but I’ve never been one to fall for anything either. I’d rather do my own research or see how everything unfolds; plus, I’m just really ready for everything to be over and life to resume it’s normal rhythm. The terrible part in all of this is that NOTHING will ever be the same and it will take quite a while for everything to seem normalized. I’d just like to know that there is something in living color that I can feel panicked about, but at this point I don’t see anything but panic and preparation for the worst on a television screen that doesn’t seem to be taking place around me or my family…and I’m thankful for it.
5. The Process of Emerging
At this point, the pandemic has taken more lives in New York than 9/11 ever did. Deaths are climbing each day and the lock down is predicted to continue until the end of April, but could be extended if the numbers do not change. I’m curious to see how everything will fall back into place once everything is over. How will jobs and shifts be continued? How will small businesses be able to get back up and proceed with all of the goals they had for their business to thrive this year? What will be done about the 6 million Americans that were forced to apply for unemployment? It’s all a huge whirlwind in my head and I’m anxious about the process, because not only was I hired into a new position; but also am in process of moving to a new home. Everything happens for a reason and maybe the Earth needed to pause for a moment and appreciate its existence, but I pray that everything falls into place. Our sad excuse for a president makes everything appear as if it’s a circus act so terrible it makes you cringe everyday. We need all of the help that we can get and need to support each other now more than ever.
I wish everyone nothing but the best and that your days are productive and positive enough to carry you through the rest of this very eccentric and unexpected year!
“African-Americans currently populate 60% of Montgomery, Alabama, the heart of the civil rights movement. 28.5% own their own business and more than 85% are living in poverty…something is missing.”
When riding around through the city of Montgomery I would like you to notice something. Whether it’s dining, nightlife, or shopping, take a moment to look around and to reflect on how much Black culture that you see and hear of daily, maybe even weekly. The type you don’t have to search for, hear about from another Black person, or go on a specific Facebook page to find information surrounding it. How many businesses can you think of that are easily accessible and well known if you choose to shop at a Black owned business on a whim for something as simple as groceries? If we, as African-Americans chose to go on strike and shop ONLY BLACK in our city…how effective do you believe it would be? Keeping in mind that it would mean, protesting all that is not Black owned or created, which would mean transportation, food, attire, and even down to the importance of your cell phone. We would be homeless, without a car, and without many basic necessities we depend on, but are distributed only through White businesses.
I believe it to be a redundant contradiction that we choose to live in a city where change and the freedom to be great as an African-American should be the most embraced, but appears to be practically nonexistent. The culture and the determination should be loud and saturate the streets of Montgomery, not only for it’s citizens, but for those who visit a location known for it’s deep history in the Black culture. Instead we battle the uncontrollable plight of gentrification when it comes to housing and the placement of Black businesses in the region.
The impact of revenue generated when we “Buy Black” would not only help build a city that deserves to be truly recognized for Black culture and business, but one that possesses the majority of that culture. The answers have been in front of us for decades and continue to remain apparent when it comes to supporting our own, it just isn’t being done.
The worst observation I’ve come to notice since moving to Montgomery is the abundance of complaints, sabotage, and crime against one another pitted against the lack of knowledge, support and humility we have given each other to succeed as a team. I am ready to stop the constant jealousy and hate we have toward each other that has only ruined blessings and opportunities we need to create. When one of us achieves success in owning a steady flowing business, it’s always disappointing to ask that in individual how they created that path, what steps they took, and what they plan to do with those steps to create a foundation of anything. We rarely give the real answers which could help our people become equally or more successful than we are and instead have been selfishly basking in that information without spreading it to others. This will always be our downfall.
There has been a constant struggle within us when it comes to providing genuine support. As an author, I have received questions surrounding discounts for my books and even receiving a book completely free…only from Black people…MY people. Being completely unaware of how much sweat, tears, and sleepless nights go into chasing your dreams is one thing; but to look one of your own people in the face in an attempt to low ball their ability to carryout that mission is an insult. It is what I would like to focus my attention on eliminating in 2020.
My vision is to highlight and promote each Black owned business, beginning with the city of Montgomery, and then journeying to other Civil Rights locations in Alabama; such as Selma, Tuskegee, and Huntsville. Reputable Black owned businesses have been serving our community for as many as 10-20 years, operating mainly under regular clientele and word of mouth. What if we could boost their reputations by not only spreading the word to those who may not have experienced their services before, but also ensure anyone who visits and tours the city of Montgomery has more access to them and their information?
The truth is that I discovered the longest running businesses are owned by those we would see as our grandparents, middle-aged aunts and uncles, and what I also call “social media apethists”. They have absolutely no interest in social media and barely know where to start when it comes to using it as a tool for promotion of their business to the masses. They sometimes simply don’t feel they need it, and most of the time they don’t; but what about those that do? Magazines such as Gump Town Magazine and In City Mag are great literary sources in Montgomery, AL that provide information on many Black owned business in the area, including those in Prattville, Wetumpa, and Millbrook. There are Facebook pages, websites, and flyers, but it’s 2020 and we deserve an app that truly celebrates us by highlighting the experience that was gained when visiting their establishment. Several years ago there were articles that ranked Montgomery, AL as number two for having the most Black owned businesses in the nation. If we still hold the title, why do things seem a little too silent around here?
The apps surrounding Black owned businesses and accessing their information, including finding their locations have already been released and become successful in helping “Buy Black” but I find it to a certain extent. Once a business is logged into the app, it even incorporates GPS to assist in directing you to a Black owned business, as well as giving a notification when it’s nearby. Black owned businesses are at your fingertips and categorized by their fields and specialties on several free downloadable apps, such Official Black Wall Street, WeBuyBlack.com, and Afroworld.
So, I decided to give them a try and see just how many businesses would pop up in Montgomery, Alabama; since categories such as hair, MUA, lawn and maintenance, and restaurants are included. Each search result produced “NO RESULTS” for Montgomery and in order for Black owned businesses to be included, they would have to visit the website themselves and enter their information to be featured. There is a $50 one time fee to join and enter your business, which seems fair for the upkeep and cost to run the app while helping promote businesses. The website WeBuyBlack is actually for those who would like to earn revenue in selling Black owned products. For $30 it helps you set up a vendor account and earn commission with your own online store selling specific products where 10% is earned by WeBuyBlack and 90% is given to the seller. Not bad.
I’m all for sites promoting Black owned businesses, but this year what I would like to put my primary focus and energy into specifically is the promotion and awareness of Black owned business in the city of Montgomery and how we can become better in creating more revenue in our communities to help eliminate poverty and provide better support for our neighborhoods and our schools. Through my non-profit Harmonious Grace, Inc, I would like to start with creating a website and a book that is similar to a “Green Book”. A Green Book, also known as The Negro Motorist Green Book, like the movie, it was a written record of business that are Black owned or Black “friendly” during the time of Jim Crow laws and segregation. Although we are no longer battling segregation or Jim Crow, we still battle the silence of how amazing doing business with African-Americans can feel! I would like to create a website and eventually an app that provides information and locations about reputable Black owned business in Montgomery, the difference being that I will personally interview each business, enter their information and ensure that most if not all reputable Black owned businesses operating in Montgomery are featured. These businesses should be easily accessible and found on ANY website promoting Black owned business and revenue without having to do all of the work they are unaware they need to do in the first place.
We are a city who’s streets bear the struggle and the fight for us to be treated equal, vote, and even receive the right to sit and eat where we please as human beings. Black History Month is slowly approaching and I’m sure there will be the dozens of programs promoting positive Black history, parades, business expos, and future plans for African-Americans to have a better presence in Montgomery. I’d like to be one of those not only speaking of change, but making that change happen for the better. My journey will begin with touring the city of Montgomery during the next several months to interview Black owned businesses about their history, the reason they started, how long they’ve been in business and what their plans are for the future. This information will then be compiled to a website focusing on Montgomery and generating more revenue where it should be, in the Black Community. Following my project, I am will be working hard to ensure all businesses will be accessible through an app that is free to download and directs all tourist and residents to Black owned businesses throughout the city. There are entirely too many that are not included on websites or highlighted by social media.
If you know of any Black owned businesses that have provided great services or products to your life and deserve to be feature, please send them to my direct email at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment directly beneath this post. I plan to interview each business, no matter the location in Montgomery or the service! Thank you for your help and your continued support for all that I strive to do! It’s now time that we strive together.