Black Folk and ‘that ‘Rona:’ A Black Woman’s Take

lifestyle, self love

black woman red shirt


I’m writing this in the midst of the global pandemic that is the Novel Coronavirus. Many of us Black folk have simply coined it “’Rona” or “that ‘Rona.” No matter what you may call it, it’s striking people all around the country and all around the world at alarming rates. This deadly virus wreaks havoc in the body, often causing high body temperatures, a dry cough and breathing difficulties. Although it is a global pandemic and no one place or group of people has gone unscathed of its wrath, Black people are particularly at a disadvantage in the battle against this invisible enemy. In my humble opinion, Black women, regardless of location, occupation or health status, are universally working the front lines in an additional battle: keeping our villages safe and informed amidst the apathy, misinformation and marginalization that makes us overrepresented in virus cases and causalities.



We are constantly warning and informing. Our parents, aunties and grandparents have been through a whole lot, and to many of them, this is just another struggle to go down in the books. Our friends are stubborn and still holding gatherings and doing other things against the wise counsel of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Dr. Anthony Fauci or Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. Our relatives may not necessarily be naysayers, but some of them may not be as phased or fearful as we are and we are very concerned. So we’re trying our best to correct their reckless behavior (i.e. not protecting themselves from the virus, going out and about like business as usual, etc.) and keep them updated on the latest developments. While other people have the privilege of watching the news and keeping up with things for their own individual consumption, many of us Black women are looking out for news about Uncle’s job with the virus outbreak, relaying information to grandma Rosie about her “sugar” and the virus and making sure our parents, partners and children are eating and living right during this extremely unsettling moment.


We have to take the lead in taking precautions. Within our own homes, we’re planning to ensure food lasts to minimize trips to the grocery store, and when we do make those trips, some of us are even managing to sanitize the groceries when we get home. We’re often setting the tone for somewhat-healthy diets in our households. In many instances, we lead the charge of cleaning and disinfecting, doing our best to keep things clean. Furthermore, we’re monitoring the comings and goings of our household in a world where staying home is the best defense against the virus. In the face of adversity, we are leading, be it up front or behind the scenes.


We carry the burden of living in the margins. For many of us, our family members are essential workers. The mental stress of their potential risks in the workplace and our own physical exposure to them presents a unique stressor. The marginalization of our own contrasts greatly with the low risks posed to others with the privilege of working from home or not working at all (but still getting paid, nonetheless). Some of our loved ones have pre-existing conditions that are barely managed (often a result of low income, limited access, etc.), and we know that those people have an increased risk of complications from the virus. We know that everyone is not socially distancing, whether it’s because they’re an essential employee or because they simply aren’t aware of the life-threatening dangers of gathering at this point in time. And to top it off, all we have to do is log in to social media to see photos of crowded outdoor spaces, parties and cookouts in which we are the overwhelming majority. In some way, Black folk are always living in the margins, but it is mentally cumbersome to expel the energy to navigate and mediate our oppressed position in wake of a global health crisis – but we must.


Black women are left holding down the fort on a normal day, but unfortunately, today the burden is extra heavy. In the near future, let’s call on our village to figure out how we can strengthen the foundation of our house of cards, so we can all be good as a collective once “that ‘Rona” passes, but for now, Black women, we must find coping strategies for our own selves to lighten the load someway, somehow, for if we crumble, the rest of the cards will come tumbling down right behind us – in the midst of a global pandemic.

Dear Sister of Any Age




Dear Sister of Any Age:

First of all, you need to know that you matter.

The most meaningful advice I could ever give you in school is to celebrate small victories, advocate for yourself, and embrace the struggles. I share this analogy with my students all the time; one that I’ve heard many times, school is a marathon not a dash.

Celebrate your first test, your first paper of the semester. You deserve it! School is not easy or convenient for most of us, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. School, at its best, in my opinion, is to help grow into our best selves. As you we celebrate, we also recognize that we are celebrating moments of growth. So please, even if it is just, having a meal (I’m foodie) or posting a status on social media, do it! Celebrate!

As a black woman, to be perfectly honest, the world is not destined with our advocacy in mind. We know this.  I have learned that oftentimes, the people we think will speak for us will not, especially in the classroom. Therefore, you must speak up! I know there is sometimes a very real sense of fear involved; fear of rejection from teachers or classmates, fear of being labeled “The Angry Black Girl or Woman,” or even the fear of our own brilliance. I’m here to tell you that whether you speak up or not, many of those labels will be placed on you anyway! So, share what’s on your mind! Your thoughts are valuable in your learning communities that exist in the classroom and beyond! I would argue that all learning communities are incomplete without the musings of the marginalized. Speak up, all our learning and growth depends on your contribution!

Returning to the marathon analogy, there comes a point in many marathoners’ journeys where they are so close to the finish line and they hit a setback. Perhaps, it is a leg cramp or hunger or just feeling exhausted – yet, many continue. I’m here to tell you just like a marathoner, school will present similar struggles. Embrace the struggles. It in the embrace of the struggle that we learn to brace ourselves, in my long run, for life’s challenges. Sure, you worked very hard on an assignment and didn’t get the grade you wanted. Sure, you had a group experience was less than ideal, and you found yourself doing all the work. It happens to all scholars! And in life, the same happens. Struggles are a part of all journeys especially in school settings. And though, some struggles may slow us down, don’t allow them stop you. Keep running my scholar sister, you got this!

tanyaRev. Tanya Boucicaut is beginning her doctoral studies as a Writing and Rhetoric student at George Mason University this spring. She is a Focused Inquiry adjunct instructor and theological writing and research affiliate faculty member at the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University. She is the founder and CEO a faith-based nonprofit youth theatre, Perfect Love Community Youth Theatre. Her goal is to empower and embrace every person in she encounters to dream and live their best lives fearlessly.