Some of the biggest things the coronavirus has taught me are how to evaluate my passions and make changes in the face of something like a worldwide pandemic. I’ve realised that so many of my interests have to take a backseat for now. At first, it was small things, like not being able to play tennis every Sunday in my town’s country club. Then they got bigger; all my college tours and academic summer activities got cancelled. Even so, I could still deal with these changes— I knew I would find other ways to exercise and I could create new opportunities for myself during the summer. However, everything changed on May 25th.
The death of George Floyd struck a chord in me and my family. Growing up as a Black girl in the Bronx, racism and the fear that it perpetuates has always been a strong constant in my life. Because of this, defending people’s basic rights and striving to get on an equal stepping stone as others is such a passion of mine. When George Floyd’s death ignited the world, I knew I wanted to get out there and demonstrate my passion and pent up rage. I wanted to fight for something I deeply and truly believed in, something that had been denied of my community for far too long. I also knew that protests would soon happen in huge gatherings and would potentially break social distancing rules and lockdowns. Suddenly my friends and I found ourselves torn between two conflicts— I wanted to get out there so badly, but I also didn't want to endanger other people’s health or my own health.
So I found other ways to contribute to the Black Lives Matter cause. I contributed through heightening my education and awareness; I taught myself and others what we need to know in order to be as informed and prepared as possible. I signed all the petitions I could find and I donated to organisations that aimed to provide whatever assistance they could to the Black Lives Matter movement, whether they were social or financial compensations.
Going through this type of massive, emotional internal battle while the world was waging its own war against a pandemic made me think about how I balance my passions amidst conflicts. I realised that I can always find a way to help bring about change, and I am capable of doing it without putting other people’s health at risk. I think the coronavirus has also taught me how to be flexible and compromise. Again, there were so many things I had been looking forward to and I was really saddened that they were no longer going to be a reality. But instead of wallowing in my unhappiness and thinking about what might have been, COVID-19 has taught me to look at what I can do to catalyze change and to make the best out of every situation.
Written by: Debi Chakrabortti