White People Ain’t Worried About Covid-19

I originally wrote this in May, the weekend before Memorial Day 2020. I remember reading this and being so overcome with anxiety and despair that I spent some time ranting at the cruelty of white people, cried, told my S.O. that I don’t know why I invited him and his violence into my life, reiterated this was why I refuse to deal with his family, cried some more, and then just went silent.

Eventually, I started writing, and then the protests started which made this essay seem…out of touch with current events. But now that we’re seeing hospital inpatients spike from all that pre-Memorial Day frolicking, Covid-19 is back on the agenda. Not that it ever left for many of us. It just became another shitty thing to constantly manage in this shitshow of a world.

From The Washington Post article “A Georgia Shopping Center Tries to Come Back to Life after Coronavirus Lockdown”

“So far, most of those cases were in the part of the county closer to Atlanta — the poorer and more heavily African American part — which was not the typical demographic of Avalon, where shoppers tended to be wealthy and white…

On the sprawling green plaza, people began gathering elbow-to-elbow on blankets and lawn chairs, opening beers and bottles of wine.

“I think you have to live life,” said Jeff Lampel, taking a sip of beer.

“When you start seeing where the cases are coming from and the demographics — I’m not worried,” agreed his friend Scott Friedel.

“I know what people are going to say — ‘Those selfish idiots are killing our old people!’ ” said Lampel.

“How do you give up a day like this — really, how?” Friedel said, enjoying the last rays of sun as the music kept playing and the crowds kept coming.”

This morning, I read an article about a suburb north of me about the people happy that Atlanta “re-opened”. The quotes were from a shopping center that we’ve been to and did not like at all. The place was pretentious and the *color redacted* people who frequent it are the epitome of the Chads and Karens of the world. At the time, we were looking for furniture, so we stopped in one store to check it out. Off to the side was a giant birdcage chair with a furry pillow inside. The chair, which was suspended from the ceiling, was $5,000. The pillow was another $800. When I asked why the pillow was so expensive, the salesperson told me that it was made from the wool of a sheep in the Tibetan mountains and that it was a specialty item, fully worth the price tag.

*raised eyebrow*

If someone told me this happened to them, I wouldn’t believe them. I would say they were full of shit because nobody would have the fucking audacity to sell something like this. But I kid you not, this shit happened and we decided that the Avalon live/work/play community was not a place we wanted to frequent. The nonsense factor of whiteness was too prominent there and I could feel the violence waiting for a target.

When you are a Black woman navigating white supremacist patriarchal capitalism, you get a feel for places that aren’t welcoming for you. You become skilled at reading the room and then determining if you have the fortitude to endure the white nonsense that day. Sometimes, you can do a smash and grab — we’ve gone to the movies there a few times so we buy the tickets online, grab them at a kiosk, go to our reserved seats, let my white spouse buy the concessions, and basically avoid any interactions with the people there. Other times, I’ve allowed people to talk me into patronizing a restaurant there, only to receive weird service that isn’t bad enough to be obvious, but is noticeably different but categorized as small mistakes. I’ve made small requests and seen the servers attend to them with unexpected intensity and when I said, “it’s not that deep” they replied, “You don’t know how these people are when you don’t give them exactly what they want.” They know their jobs are at the whim of these abusive assholes and do whatever they can to avoid the rampage of the BeckyChets.

When you live surrounded by the targeted violence of white people, you do a lot to avoid making contact. But sometimes you can’t avoid it. I’ve been on my job for three months now, and I’ve been “talked to” about being unapproachable because I don’t want to play the work reindeer games. The white women at my job don’t feel like I’m friendly, and they are right. I’m not friendly with them. I am not on their teams, have a passing interaction with them, and I am not interested in interacting with them on their terms. Cuz when I don’t meet whatever arbitrary standard they’ve created or jumped through whatever today’s hoop is, they whine. And when I set a boundary, they cry. So not only have I had to endure their fuckery, I get reprimanded regardless. I prefer to skip all that and save myself the stress of the Becky/Karen/Susan/Laura tearfest since it’s always the same outcome. Their hunger for violence is limitless and I’m fucking tired of being a chew toy.

Every day I navigate the violence of whiteness and tell myself that I’m okay. I tell myself that I’m not disempowered. I tell myself that I’m fine even as I feel my chest aching from the pain of denying the truth. I lie and lie and lie and tell myself that my S.O. isn’t the embodiment of centuries of violence. That he and his ilk don’t casually promote eugenics and genocide with their very existence. I tell myself that these neighbors, these co-workers, these people I’m forced to interact with on a daily basis to survive are not casually advocating for or aiding in my early death. That their indifference over whether I live or die is safer than their aggressive pursuit of my demise. I tell myself that I should just keep my head down and worry about myself and do what I have to do but what I have to do is live mired in this casual cruelty that makes me constantly ask myself what’s the fucking point.

You start to ask yourself why is the world like this? Why are white people like this? Why are they so dismissive of others for their bullshit pursuits. I read the quotes from the white people in Georgia and heard the casual dismissal of thousands of deaths because the demographics of the dead are not them. They are safe. And they went to Avalon and crowded together in the grass among strangers, drinking beer and sunbathing because they are not impacted by this disease yet. These are people with million-dollar houses and sprawling lawns who couldn’t sunbathe out back for some reason. Instead, they go to a tacky, elitist shopping center to buy overpriced bullshit and demand people who have less money and less power to say no to wait on them.

They willfully and recklessly endanger people’s lives because they think they are special, different, above this pesky pandemic that, according to them, is being overhyped in the media. They insist they have the right to do whatever they want and that they are fine with the consequences. These white people who watch our murders, blame us for our deaths, ignore advice, actively court death, and then want empathy and sympathy when they finally learn that they aren’t different. When they finally realize that they are not immune and demographics are dependent on both circumstances and behavior and their circumstances were the only thing semi-protecting them in the early days of this pandemic. When they start feeling this, suddenly it’s everyone’s problem that we have to solve together but as long as only Black, Indigenous, Non-Black PoCs, disabled, elderly, and poor people being affected, they have the right to frolic together in the sun and go shopping.

We already know how this will play out. When white people in Alpharetta, Georgia start getting sick, they’ll demand a response. They’ll demand treatment. They will receive access to resources that somehow didn’t exist a week prior. They will demand everyone care about their suffering despite all their self-righteous bullshit demanding the right to increase everyone’s risk.

I live among white people who create entire narratives calling Black people like me monsters, claiming they fear us while they aggressively confront us alone, threatening to call the police as they try to exert some power over us. They demonize us to hide the horror of themselves. They continue to push this idea that they are victims, when at every turn they engage in, encourage, and dismiss the inhumane things they do. They lie so that they can feel comfortable in their horribleness as they mistreat and kill whomever they want with impunity.

“Die for our pleasure,” they say, making shopping is the modern-day gladiator ring of the american citizen.

“Die for our comfort,” they say, as they demand their haircuts and pedicures and mimosas.

“Die for our sport,” they say, as they push for sporting events to begin again.

“Die for our lust,” they say as they continue to exploit sex workers.

“Die for our entertainment,” they say as they complain about movie theaters being closed.

Die to feed our illusions of greatness. Die to maintain our lies of success. Die because we think we’re the only people who deserve to live. Just die.

White people romanticize slavery and masturbate to the thought of Black people’s deaths. They read essays like mine to spend a brief moment of feeling shame and then forgive themselves only to repeat the same routine of genocide, complicity, guilt, and shame. They refuse to admit their fucking privilege is nothing but violence and that they really don’t think anyone other than them is an actual human being. They believe they are immune to the problems Black, Indigenous, and non-Black People of Color face because there is some inherent part of whiteness that makes them better when it’s their extreme violence that created and maintains that lie. They hate us when they are poor because they believe their whiteness should protect them from poverty and they take every opportunity to reinforce hierarchal, genocidal bullshit through the various forms of modern-day lynching and their violent institutions that allow them to inflict their violence on those the hierarchy has deemed inhuman.

The only truth white people tell is their love of inflicting pain and that truth is only revealed in the self-hating art they continuously create. They are the beast that needs to be put down and the fucked up part is that it will always take a bunch of us with them because we are caught in their fucking trap.

I am tired of pretending to see humanity where there is none.

I am tired of telling myself I’m safe when I’m not.

I am tired of surviving by appeasing the monster of whiteness that is never sated. Their hunger for violence, pain, and death is unquenchable.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to want to live through this.

I guess I’ll keep trying to figure it out.

Originally published at https://talynnkel.com on June 19, 2020.

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TaLynn Kel

Fat, Black, Femme Geek. I’m a writer & cosplayer. My blog is www.talynnkel.com. My books: Breaking Normal& Still Breaking Normal http://amzn.to/2FW5kl3