One More Time, Black People Are NOT Immune to COVID-19!
Steppers Beware!
 
Unfortunately, it finally happened. COVID-19 has hit Chicago’s Black community, and specifically the Black Stepping Community. 
 
Chicago Steppin’ is a beautiful high contact dance. Hand to hand. Sometimes, cheek to cheek. It’s sexy and smooth. Has lots of swag. I love, love, love the dance! I step monthly sometimes weekly at a couple venues. It has remarkable word of mouth and is an important financial resource for many organizers. Yet, since the outbreak, I have been concerned about going out, and how the Chicago Stepping Community has been painfully silent about COVID-19.
 
Today, I learned a friend of my good friend, who I know as well, was exposed to someone with COVID-19. She danced with him at a Chicago stepper event last week. After their dance, he kissed her on the cheek. He’s currently in the hospital in serious condition. She has no symptoms after one week, and, per her doctor, will continue to quarantine herself for another week. She is open to be tested, but it may not be required.
 
I’m not releasing her name. We are encouraging her to come forward and tell her story. And no, I don’t know the carrier’s name.
 This is real. No joke.
 
The point is, it’s out there, and in our community.
 
In spite of the two Black NBA players who tested positive, Cristian Wood of Detroit Pistons and Donavan Mitchell of Utah Jazz, way too many Black people believe or want to believe COVID-19 is not a Black thing. The infected NBA players are perceived as mainstream and not living the Black experience .
 
Other reasons that keeps Black folks’ head in sand are::
·          We believe our DNA protects us. It’s as if the melanin has some type of super power to protect us.
·          We are social people; church, stepping, reunions, parties, are difficult to give up
·          We still have issues around medical racism: Recent research that I conducted on behalf of a bio tech company reveal Black culture, race, racism hugely impact the Black patient’s healthcare journey
·          Although America is diverse, it is also still very segregated. Black folks, especially, still live in communities where we are likely to exclusively live, socialize, worship with each other
·          We are traveling and cruising internationally, but not to the same extent as White America 
·          We have not seen high numbers of Blacks with the disease in our communities (or in Africa )
 
 
Although these situations are real, we must stop using them as reasons for not changing our behavior. People are dying. Blacks are not alone ignoring the warning signs. Young people, tourists and those with disposable incomes continue to flock to popular venues and restaurants. So, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker ordered the closing of bars and restaurants today through March 30 .  
 
We have to keep educating ourselves. I know. The information and warnings coming out multiple times a day is overwhelming. I don’t like it either. But we have to get ready for a new normal.
 
It’s tough, but I believe social distancing with a plan will save lives.
 
No stepping for me until I am confident that I, and those in my community are safe.
 
Be well.

Pepper Miller
Recognized Black-American Market Researcher, Author, Thought Leader and Speaker
@peppermiller