The Black Card: We Are Not Disposable, We Are Essential

By Terry Allen
Columnist

Thanks, you readers, for your loyalty to I Messenger and my column as it is being read all over the world. Your feedback has confirmed that the paper, the column and the information are what is needed in these times. Before I get focused on our essential value, I want you to pause to remember Mr. George Floyd and pray for our cities and all of our citizens. Now. I want to assure you that I understand that your time is a priceless resource and being alone with our thoughts can be an alarming place for some of us, especially when the public has treated African Americans as if we are disposable.

Black Americans have a greater risk of loss from health and economic disparities than our mainstream counterparts as we account for more than half of the COVID-19 cases and over 60% of the deaths nationwide. One reason is Black workers account for more than 80% of essential frontline employees in the health, retail, and delivery and warehouse jobs in the USA. Also, most of these jobs are on or under the poverty level, subjecting people of color to restricted access to healthcare, work leave, health insurance, and self/employer-provided PPE.

And some neighborhoods of color are food deserts, underserved transportation pathways and higher-priced retail products for the same basic staples in other areas. In summary, many Black people, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, are also in the midst of a RACIAL pandemic. Many Blacks have to go to work; cannot shelter at home and live in neighborhoods that may have less life-enhancing environment than our counterparts. So, let’s call a “thing” a “thing,” acknowledges it, and recognizes that “thing” dwells within our world. I am a Black man with an adult Black son and I live in fear for my life every day.

In the words of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “You cannot out concern me!” My son, my nephews, my male cousins, and I have a different code of conduct and rules of engagement than our counterparts. Racism is a greater pandemic for us than anything else. We are forced to work inside a world built by institutionalized racism. From enslavement and experimental medical trials to legal genocide and redlining, the US has a long history of using our labor and contributions for free.

We need an overhaul of our community to combat all the underlying issues that affect us. So, if you did some soul searching over the past couple of months, what can you do collectively to pull back the curtain; identify racism at all levels; and make masterful steps to end the cycle once and for all? My grandmother would say; “Beloved, nothing can be dealt with until we actually DEAL with it.” So, let’s please put together steps to empower us to end racism in our lifetime.

I believe in reparative concessions. If we dig deep enough, most of us can find or build a collaborative process to help topple racism? I am going to add one issue we can work on right now. People of color, stop undermining our own and practicing self-hate and self-sabotage to make sure our voices are snuffed out. Every day, I have to defend my experience to some Black person, who undermines my fight; who thinks racism is my fault and I can overcome it!

How many of you advertise with Black newspapers and require that mainstream manufacturers advertise? For example, how many of you have gone to a Black business owner who failed to get your ”it” right and you 1) did not say anything 2) did not return nor let them know 3) and trashed them to others and 4) went to another non-Black business owner; got treated the same but stayed? Don’t lie! Words are powerful. We can use them to affirm ourselves or they can lead to self-sabotage. We are not disposable, we are essential. What can you do to contribute to our success?

Terry Allen is an award-winning media professional, journalist and entrepreneur who serves as the Media Related Representative on the National Association of Black Journalists Board of Directors. He is also the founder of City Men Cook and 1016 Media.