By SUSAN K. SMITH
Crazy Faith Ministries
Even as the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump gets underway this week, there is a crisis that deserves as much or more attention – and that is the pandemic that is raging throughout the world in general and this country in particular.
The reports keep coming, emphasizing what the numbers are showing: that COVID-19 is affecting – and killing – more Black and Brown people than White people in this country, according to Vox.com. That grim fact is coupled with the news that Black people are not getting the vaccine in numbers that would help decrease their infection rate and deaths, HKN.org reported. And it appears that the Latinx community is shying away from getting the vaccine as well, noted HealthLine.com.
Journalist Charles Blow wrote a piece in The New York Times explaining that it is young Black people who are most likely to avoid getting the vaccine – not so much because they don’t trust the vaccine, but rather because they distrust the government.
Young Black people, writes Blow, have seen the government in action – in the way it sanctions unfair and unjust treatment of and toward them. They believe there is no reason to believe that the government has their best interests at heart now.
While Blow’s article indicated that it is young Black people who are reluctant to get vaccinated – more than Black people over the age of 60 – I have had conversations with people over 60 who are vehemently reluctant (I say it that way because their reaction to my question if they’re going to get it is often filled with angry energy) to get it. Their take: “I’m going to wait and see how folks who are getting it do. I’m in no hurry …”
Meanwhile, the virus is killing Black people off at alarming numbers.
I hesitated before I decided to get it. Who can forget the Tuskegee Experiment? Henrietta Lacks? Dr. J. Marion Sims? Black bodies have been the guinea pigs and the sacrificial lambs in medical research throughout American history. What should make us think that this vaccine is nothing less than another experiment?
The answer lies in the public nature of this disease. This is no trial drug being tested for efficacy in a lab or a chemistry lab for a malady that affects a relatively small number of people in proportion to the overall population of the world.
This is a vaccine needed to stop the progress of a virus that is threatening the entire world. It is lethal, as lethal as was polio, which also needed a vaccine. Without the vaccine, more people throughout the world would have died or would have been paralyzed for life from polio. This virus is waging war against the entire world.
Knowing that, I got the vaccine. I get angry when people refuse to wear masks or social distance. I live with a dread of finding out that someone I know or love has contracted the virus or is sick from it, or worse, has died. I have seen footage of how it affects people. I don’t want that for the people I love or for myself. And so, I got the vaccine.
It is my hope that more Black people lose their hesitancy. There is risk in getting it, but there is greater risk, it appears, in not getting it. Maybe it’s time for us to trust God in a way we have not before – a trust that necessarily comes with some serious doubts, but a trust nonetheless.
Maybe this is a moment we have to sing, “I don’t believe He’s brought me this far to leave me.”
Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Her latest book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: The Bible, the Constitution, and Racism in America is available at all booksellers. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.