By Amber Davis, Alumni Contributor
Editor’s Note: The Personal Essays section of the paper is one that invites students to share their personal experiences and thoughts about subjects they are passionate about. The author is not affiliated with The Pioneer, but has given us permission to publish their work.
I just want to dance, like my African ancestors, do a little two-step, a shimmy of my shoulder with my loved ones to celebrate. Oh, how I miss the base on my back, feeling the vibes through my feet. The last “normal” celebration was for my best friend’s birthday, the Sunday before the closings of all NYC bars, restaurants, and public schools, yes, life as we knew it. I’m talking about no mask on, seating inside of a packed restaurant and partying on a dance floor with over 50 people. We should have known things were going to eventually get real.
“Sorry, we have to cancel your reservation due to New York State regulations, but we hope to be open in a few weeks.” Ring after ring, some places not even answering, “Sorry, we aren’t taking any reservations at this time.” After so many rejections, a sweet voice finally says, “Hi, yes, we will be open for brunch, how many people will you be coming with?” Miss Lily’s, a restaurant that wasn’t scared of what was to come. But should I have been scared? Who would have known waiting for that reservation would turn into months of waiting? I had no idea what we would be waiting for.
I’ve been waiting to celebrate; the next celebration should have been for me. It should have been outdoor concerts and festivals, vacations, The Polo Classics, Essence Fest, the whole shebang. But now our celebrations consist of Zoom meetings, six feet apart, social distancing, outdoor gatherings, decorated cars for the new era of drive-bys, and to-go windows for drinks in the weirdest places.
Our celebrations have been taken away from us once again in history, like when we were ripped away from our villages in Africa and forced to succumb to what I know now as my native land. I refuse to let this happen again, I will not be scared, I refuse to let my light be dimmed. The world will see me! The world will see us! See me as I celebrate and excel as a smart, educated black businesswoman in America, who deserves to celebrate completing her Masters of Business Administration during a global pandemic. But it’s hard to celebrate, it’s hard to smile when you are trying to survive two global pandemics: COVID-19 and racism.
I don’t know when the next time I’ll be walking through a crowd of fine men and women on the dance floor, swaying my hips to the rhythm of the beat, while breathing in thick air that saturates the room. With men trying to touch my lower back, to excuse themselves as they pass, just because we are that close. The same men that may not make it home if they have that one interaction with that one cop, just because they wanted to dance. I don’t know when I’ll be able to dance, when can I embrace the dance floor again with my six-inch heels?
Because now all I can embrace are the images of people dying from COVID, the images of black people dying at the hands of police, images of all walks of life flooding the streets to stand on the right side of history.
Now, all my ears can embrace are the chants in the streets, “Black Lives Matter,” “No justice, no peace.” Day after day, minute after minute.
Celebrations have been replaced with victories of the American people, holding people accountable for their inhumane actions. Holding people to their word, to their actions and decisions, because after all, your word is bond. No more saying one thing in the light and another in the dark, the light is shining on all of us, God is saying to us, no more hiding.
We have all been hiding for the past three months, a stay-at-home order we were all succumbed to by our native land. A stay-at-home order that has made us hide from one another, to only realize we can no longer hide from the injustices that keep occurring to us all.