Recently, I was discussing COVID-19 with Christina Anounassar, a fellow mixie who resides in Canada. We were sharing opinions regarding the number of people of color not getting vaccinated, the historical legacy of medical experimentation and the resulting lack of trust in communities of color. I was reminded of an interesting interview I engaged in with our audience on an episode of Mixed Race Radio wherein Dorothy Roberts discussed her book, Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century. It got me thinking about compromise and whether our ability to choose what we compromise is lessened when the choice has already been made for us.
Up to this point, I have thought of one compromising as something personal; a choice that is made on the spot in order to secure an outcome that is wanted. Over time, these choices say something about who we are and what we do when no one else is looking (the definition of character as told to me by my mother many years ago). But what happens when the choice to not pursue a medical intervention that could save lives is not a personal choice? Rather, the feelings and meaning behind it are so imbedded in the culture of our lives, that going against the pattern of our patriarchs would make us wholly “other” in the eyes of our circle of supports.
When compromise is so imbedded in our culture, what is left to help us examine the balance of good and evil, right and wrong? Do we risk becoming disconnected to save our own lives when the disconnection itself from our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, could end up feeling like a greater kind of doom? In last month’s article, I discussed the idea of compromise in its most basic form, based on its definition, as a “form of attack” and a sense of being vulnerable, as in being compromised.
I cannot stop wondering about the generational impact of trauma (racial, medical, female) on the minds and hearts of people today. We are confronted with a global pandemic and surrounded by a science-backed push urging people to do all they can in order to get a life-saving vaccine. And yet, people of color within my community seem stuck; frozen in their tracks by the coldness of the stories and experiences they have come to know about through tales told within their families. These stories speak of a legacy that will not, and should not, be forgotten.
But my question is this, at our very core, is our willingness to compromise our health and life to honor the lives of those we may have lost really a compromise at all if, obtaining a vaccine or engaging in any out-of-the ordinary medical treatment, separates us from the lifeforce of our family legacy?
This is the “disconnect” that our politicians do not understand. In a “post-racial” era, communities of color are expected to have moved on from memories of past wrongs. And yet, we have only to turn on and tune in to realize that the world we see portrayed on television is more reality tv than ever. A reality which remains very different for people of color than white people especially when it comes to the ever-enduring legacy of the medical establishment and its most serious crime: the invention of race.
By Tiffany Reid