Updated: Apr 8, 2020
Governor John Bel Edwards reported that out of the 14,867 positive cases of COVID-19 reported today, and the 512 deaths here in La. 70 percent of these were Black citizens. He also reported that Black people make up only 32.4 percent of the entire Louisiana population, and yet we are on the high end of this pandemic.
By Mydra L. Kelly For the Weekly Press
For weeks now I’ve asked the question, “Where are the demographics for the Coronavirus”? Early on we were a bit misinformed or not informed at all; so black people were saying that we couldn’t get corona. We joked about the fact that for the most part we have pretty good hygiene and always washed our hands. Purex, Clorox, and plain ole bleach are a normal part of our regular cleaning routine anyway. Then on top of that, as we looked at other countries and continents like Africa, we saw reporting of lower outbreaks of this virus. However, African Americans or Black people here in America are different in many ways from our sisters and brothers in the motherland and even some other lands. Now that we are well into the American version of the COVID-19, one of the primary concerns for being heavily at risk for the disease are the underlying conditions that seemingly activate the Coronavirus into high gear. These pre-existing conditions are hypertension, diabetes, heart and lung disease, and other conditions; all of which unfortunately Black people have very high numbers in. Particularly in the south. Most of our social interactions are centered around eating good food and drink that is not as good for us as it is to us. Louisiana at large has high percentages of all of these conditions, and black people are in even higher percentiles. So as I sat and listened to the Governor’s daily press conference today, finally, some of my questions and concerns were addressed. Governor John Bel Edwards reported that out of the 14,867 positive cases of COVID-19 reported today, and the 512 deaths here in La. 70 percent of these were Black citizens. He also reported that Black people make up only 32.4 percent of the entire Louisiana population, and yet we are on the high end of this pandemic. What he could not answer was why? Speculation would say that this is probably because even though Louisiana at large has some of the highest rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease in the country, blacks still have even larger numbers. Like in many states where there are large black populations, there is more limited healthcare and disproportionate economic standards. Both of these being instrumental in poorer physical health. As I researched I found that other states were showing a similar pattern to ours, one of these being Chicago, Ill. Who has a 29 percent black population and has also seen a 70 percent or more death rate from its black community concerning the coronavirus. As the demographics continue to emerge I believe that what we’re going to see may bring us to tears. But for right now let’s deal with what we know. To you the black community, if you haven’t been awake and paying attention up to this point, now is the time to do so. I would admonish pastors, preachers, community public officials, leaders, lay members, teachers, girls on the block and boys in the hood; 100 Black men, sororities, fraternities, and even street pharmacist and anybody else who has a following to hear my cry. I am sounding the alarm. It’s time to stop being in denial and talking crazy saying stuff like “well, we all gonna die from something, or if the Lord is ready for me it’s just my time and I'm not going anywhere before then”. Stop the madness people! God does not intend for anybody to leave here prematurely, but he is not going to come down here and usher anybody into their house. That’s our responsibility. New York’s Governor said it best using three descriptive words; wreckless, irresponsible and selfish. No longer can we act like this is somebody else’s problem and it’s not impacting all of us. It’s our responsibility to not let our young people go out into the streets being wreckless because somebody told them they couldn’t get corona, and then they bring it back to big mama’s house and kill both she and pawpaw because they are the ones who have the high blood pressure and the sugar diabetes and sarcoidosis or other lung conditions. If they get Corona with these pre-existing conditions they are the ones who could die! God forbid. Now I love Jesus with all of my heart and soul, and my mama has prayed the Prayer of protection in Psalms 91 for as long as I can remember. It’s covered my brother through three military tours of duty and the rest of our family through a whole host of other things. Now I’m praying it too. I believe in the blood of Jesus and I know the blood still works. However, I need some of you Bible scholars to help me out. When the children of Israel were at risk of yet another invisible enemy; they covered their doorpost with blood. Then what else did they do? They went into their houses, shut the doors and waited for the death angel to pass by. He told them to stay inside. (Read Exodus 12:21-22) I do believe also in 2nd Timothy 1:7 and I know that God has not given me the spirit of fear, but love, power, and a sound mind. He showed me how much he loved me when he sent his only begotten Son to a cross to die, so I wouldn’t have to. He tells me over and over in his word that I have the power to obtain wealth, so I don’t have to worry about the economy. I have the power to speak life over my body, my circumstances and all of my situations. But he also informed me that all these things are a choice. He said that he wished that I would choose life, but he never said that he would make me. So how do I have a sound mind? When I recognize that faith without works is dead, and I have sense enough to do my part with the understanding that God will do the rest, but he will not do for me, nor you what we are capable of doing for ourselves. The governor and a host of public officials have begged us for a month now to stay at home, but we were a rebellious people and we did not listen. Neither the churched or the unchurched. We waited before we obeyed, and today I believe these numbers show that we pay. Many of us are now on board, but others still aren’t. Now we are having to play catch up to this ravenous pandemic that has already taken many of our loved ones and friends. Delayed obedience is disobedience. And just because it has not touched you personally yet, does not make you exempt. As for myself, I don’t have enough fingers to count the calls I’ve received from people here and abroad reporting the loss of loved ones and friends. Starting in New Orleans, and going to Gonzales, Hammond, Denham Springs, Plaquemine, Bozier, and right here in Baton Rouge; not to mention Chicago and NewYork. It has touched people that I love and therefore it has touched me. One of my friends lost two relatives a day apart. Another had to say a virtual goodbye to his sibling from thousands of miles away. It breaks my heart. It’s time for us all to repent to God and the law of the land. We need to humble ourselves and surrender our foolish ways. I don’t want to see another elder or gatekeeper lost to this virus. I don’t want to see people of any race, but particularly black people of any age group leave here before their time. We could be burying our next Mayor, Governor, or President. Mayor Sharon Weston-Broome pleaded with Baton Rouge today as we move into what could be one of the worse weeks of this virus. She said, “It is a critical week, please stay home”. The Governor does not want to Marshall order us because he realizes that this could open up yet another can of worms, and we don’t want this any more than he does. However, we must all use our influence, power, and authority in the spirit of love. Everyone has someone they can help educate. They have told us that one of us has the potential to infect up to three other people. How about we impact at least four people to stay at home. The life you save may very well be your own. I’ve heard many people say that they do not trust the government. I don’t exactly know how to address this, but What I do know is that we don’t have to be afraid if we just trust God and do the right thing. Psalms 118:8 says, put not your trust in man, trust in God. Be not afraid, God is with us, but black people please let’s use wisdom. Pray for discernment and in all of thy getting, please get understanding. Then stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. He will bring us through this like he has with so many other things, so many times before. However, we must comply so that we do not die. I will live and not die to declare the glory of the Lord. Remember obedience is better than sacrifice. Let’s not sacrifice another life. As we embark upon Easter Sunday, let us be reminded that Christ already did that. He became our ultimate sacrifice. He died, so we wouldn’t have to. And because he lives we truly can face tomorrow and life is worth the living just because “HeLives”. Please, Let's take care of ourselves and each other. In the words of Hezekiah Walkers song: “ I need you, you need me; we’re all a part of God’s body; stand with me, agree with me, it is his will that every need be supplied, you are important to me, I need you to survive, you are important to me, I need you to survive...
Keep the faith, be safe and let’s all stay alive.