By: Trevann Hamilton
It has been four months since the first COVID-19 case was recorded in Jamaica. I cannot believe it’s only been 4 months. In college, four months flew by and in no time I had exams to stress over. It seems as if pandemic time is moving slower than normal. In the four short months, there were a number of things I noticed and I’ve decided that I wanted to share them.
- Tomorrow Isn’t Promised - I don’t mean this in a morbid way. Remember when your parents tried to discourage you from going out so much because those activities will always be there? Well, they were wrong. The year prior to the pandemic and the two months of 2020 just before it hit, I was going everywhere. Honestly, some days I couldn’t be bothered but I usually dragged myself out of bed to go to the beach, hang out with friends, or go to a seminar to network. I probably went out more in 2019 than I ever have in my life. I’m glad I did. I’m glad I never had the mindset that I could just go to the next seminar or go to the next beach trip because as you can see, there are no seminars and I’m definitely not going to a crowded beach in the middle of a pandemic.
- You Can’t Control Everything - People like me who always try to have things under control take quotes like “you can’t control everything” to mean YOU can’t control everything but I can. The pandemic escalated so quickly and I’ve felt so helpless the whole time. I was staying at home and washing my hands, yet people were still getting sick and dying. The small positive thing I could hold on to is that I know my actions have likely prevented additional cases. The looming recession, the layoffs, the uncertainties are all big things I’m hyper-aware I can’t control and I don’t like it. These things will almost certainly affect me but I can’t really do much to stop them or cushion the blows.
- Remote Work Was Always Possible - I have been working from home as a freelancer, for a little over a year now for various clients. However, I would have loved to have been working for a company with a stable paycheque from home. I’m not alone with this. Many people who dreaded taking public transportation and sitting in traffic with jobs that could have easily been done at home have been asking their bosses for the opportunity to work at home for the longest time. Unfortunately, most businesses didn’t allow that even though there would be so many benefits. All of a sudden, with the work from home policies put in place, the managers magically made Zoom calls happen and people could submit their work from home. I hope that’s something that remains an option after the pandemic.
- There is a Disconnect Between Science and the Public - While I didn’t have anybody in my circle sending me Whatsapp chain messages filled with a conspiracy that could be easily debunked with a Google search, I saw many of those messages on Twitter. Initially, it was kind of funny but it became concerning when I really thought about the fact that people genuinely believed this. In the middle of a pandemic, the last thing you need are conspiracy theories about how masks kill people or how 5G towers are responsible. I think people believe them because of not fully understanding a lot of the information they’re exposed to. They can’t tell you why 5G towers can’t be the reason or why masks are not harmful. I don’t even blame them. I blame the education system and all the barriers to quality education for the most part. I have seen educated individuals spewing conspiracy theories too and I don’t know what to make of that.
- The Virus Doesn’t Discriminate But Society Does - Affording to stay at home is a privilege. There I said it. I’m not referring to people who have lost their jobs unless they’re rich they can’t afford to stay home. The stay at home orders were put in place for our own good. However, what about people who had informal jobs that required them to sell their wares outside the home? They don’t have a cushy 6 months worth of emergency savings and without money coming they could literally starve. It wasn’t just those in the informal sector that would be affected, the “working poor” are also in trouble. They often had to ride public transportation which exposes them to the virus and go to a job that forces them to interact with people who may or may not care for their wellbeing. Some people cannot afford to order their groceries in, living off of passive income and a savings account.
Coupled with classism and racism baked into healthcare systems around the world, some people are just more at risk of contracting the virus even though the virus obviously doesn’t know who it’s infecting. My hope is for better policies to be put into place to remove barriers to access essential things. I’ve noticed more and more people coming to the same realization during the pandemic, so maybe there is hope.
This personal essay is one of a series that asks you to share how navigating the current global pandemic has impacted your life, connections, relationships, and goals. We want to hear your experiences, as a millennial woman of color.
If interested, send your piece to email@example.com with 1–2 sentences on what your essay is about. We can’t wait to share your story!