The only constant now is loss. More than 200,000 people are dead from COVID-19. We’ve all lost time, routines, jobs, connections to others. But the grief has not been evenly distributed.
Grief in this country has always had an equity problem, and 2020 has only amplified the issue, as Black deaths have come in back-to-back blows, from the coronavirus, police brutality, and the natural deaths of those we look up to most. Each new death, each new example of an old injustice, renews our grief, sending little shock waves of sorrow. We are in the middle of a Black bereavement crisis, and we do not have the privilege or time to grieve.
So many who look like me have died this year that even when I rattle off the names in earnest or exasperation, I chastise myself at the end when I realize that I missed someone from the long list. We've lost Chadwick Boseman, John Thompson, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Riah Milton, Katherine Johnson, Representative John Lewis, the Reverend C. T. Vivian, Naya Rivera, Herman Cain, Stanley Crouch. The deaths aren’t just of people noted by the media. In June, a Washington Post/Ipsos poll found that nearly one in three Black Americans knows someone personally who has died of COVID-19. The death rate among Black individuals is up to 10 times higher than among white individuals. We’ve lost mothers, fathers, siblings, uncles, aunties, pop-pops, nanas, play cousins, friends, and neighbors as the pandemic ravages our community. The losses this year are so overwhelming that all I can say when I hear of more people who have died is "Damn, them too?"