Musings of a COVID-19 Baby
VOICES OF THE 21st CENTURY
When pondering my contribution for the next Voices of the 21st Century book, it didn’t take me long to decide to tell a story in the voice of my young grandson.
He was born in March 2020 as the pandemic was spreading throughout the world — as mask-wearing, social distancing, and staying at home become the norm. He was born shortly before the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. He was born into a world where his home country was being plagued by two viruses, one biological and the other systemic.
The decision to write my story through Cairo’s voice was prompted by a question my daughter asked me as she prepared for a Black Lives Matter march in Pittsburgh shortly after George Floyd’s death. She, her sister, and a cousin represented the third family generation of protesting for the same thing — our birthright to exist in the skin in which we were born. As the realization seeped in, she asked if I thought Cairo would someday have to march in protest for his birthright as an American citizen.
That moment prompted my decision to use my work as an antiracism platform on behalf of Cairo and my other grandson, Zane, who is now thirteen years old. I developed two streams of work through an antiracism lens. The first is my story in Voices of the 21st Century: Resilient Women Who Rise and Make a Diifference, entitled “Musings of a COVID-19 Baby.”
In the story Cairo describes himself as a “melanized baby boy born into a world plagued simultaneously by two viruses — one biological, one systemic. Both have the potential to end my life prematurely, to cause me irreparable harm, or to otherwise kill my dreams and aspirations.” He goes on to say, “I was born into a resilient family where they all look at me — even when I struggle to crawl and walk as babies do — and see so much more in me than meets the worldly eye.” The story is written as an indictment against the forces of a racialized society that has the potential to harm rather than nurture Cairo based solely on the color of his skin. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once remarked that a person should not be considered on the basis of skin color but on the content of character. But what happens when the perceived content of their…