I am going to be vaccinated for the coronavirus. As soon as my turn comes, I am going to be vaccinated for the coronavirus. I will not try to get in front of others. Neither will I pass up my turn. I will meet the moment. I am going to be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.
I am Black. I am African American. I am a person of color. I know the history of medical abuse, health abuse and societal abuse on people of color. Over the years, that history is horrible and hurting and long. But I stand on that history, seeing farther and reaching higher. I am going to be vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.
Yes, I know about Dr. J. Marion Sims’ experimenting on enslaved Black women by operating on their private parts without permission and/or anesthesia under the theory that Black people could not feel pain. I know about the secret eugenic operations on thousands of Black women so they could not have children. I know about the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, where hundreds of Black men were left untreated for decades to see how syphilis would ravage their bodies. I know about Henrietta Lacks, whose cells were taken without her permission and used to cure others. I know all these things and much more. I am going to be vaccinated.
The COVID-19 virus is deadly. It has killed more than 300,000 people in this country alone. More than 16 million have been infected. Hundreds of thousands have been hospitalized. All these numbers are growing by the day and hour. COVID-19 is ravaging Whites as well as people of color, although the latter are being ravaged at a higher and more deadly rate. White folks need this vaccine as well as Black folks. I am going to be vaccinated.
As I see it, the risks of dying and or serious illness from the COVID-19 virus are far greater than from vaccination. I don’t rule out danger from the vaccine. I just weigh the dangers. I see the results of COVID-19 going unchecked each day in illness, death, isolation from each other, widespread economic dislocation and more. I am going to be vaccinated.
I have seen many human beings who declared that they were not going to marry again or even enter into another relationship because they were hurt previously. The past should make us careful but not become a weight on us or a wall around us. Relationships are too critical in life to give up on them because of a previous failure. I know that these terrible things that were done to Black people were intentional acts springing from White supremacy. I know the risk, but I also know the risks from COVID-19 are far greater. I am going to be vaccinated.
Are there more concrete reasons why I am willing to be vaccinated? The answer is yes, yes, yes. Faya Rose, my wife of 51 years, and I are joining together to get vaccinated. I have a partner on this vaccination journey. I reinforce her judgment, and she reinforces mine. I put her concerns in perspective and she put mine. Our judgments agree and unite. Faya and I are going to get vaccinated.
Faya and I are at high risk. We have underlying conditions. She has had cancer twice. I am obese and have high blood pressure. We are both past our mid-seventies. However, we both would get the vaccination even if we were not so high risk. Faya and I are going to be vaccinated.
I did my research. I know that efforts to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus commenced in 2005, shortly after COVID-4 burst forth. The vaccine came to a head in 2020. It was 16 years in the making. However, with Donald Trump’s claiming he did the vaccine, too many of us think it is a nine-month wonder. In my humble opinion, the development of the vaccine is on solid grounds. Faya and I are going to get vaccinated.
I appreciate the powerful role that technology played in the urgent development of this vaccine. Vaccines in the past were created from serum from other living beings. The advancement in DNA allowed stimulation of the disease causing the body to make antibodies. Technology allows us to have meals in minutes that used to take hours. Technology allows us to have vaccines in months rather than years. Faya and I are going to get vaccinated.
I see how important this vaccine is to the powerful. I can tell it is very important because they put billions of dollars behind its development. They were not creating the vaccine to hurt people of color. They were moving to protect people they cared about and/or save businesses they valued. It was created for them. Faya and I are going to get vaccinated.
One indication that the vaccine is probably safe and effective is based upon the commitment of former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each volunteering to be recorded being publicly vaccinated. President-Elect Joe Biden is also being vaccinated publicly. I know tricks can still be played. I also know COVID-19 is no trick. It is deadly real. Faya and I are going to get vaccinated.
I fear exclusion, not inclusion. My fear is that people of color will not get vaccinated. I fear that we will too often be eliminated on the powerful principle of last hired, first fired. Whites want the vaccine. I expect that many will find ways not only of getting vaccinated but getting it first, leaving those most in need waiting. I also fear too many people of color and poor people in general will eliminate themselves out of fear. I fear that too many of us will needlessly get ill and many will die based on fears rooted in the terrible past. Faya and I are going to get vaccinated.
It is not enough for Faya and me to get vaccinated. We could get the vaccination and be quiet. However, we want you and all those in need to get the vaccination. We want you to stay free of this terrible disease and of its dangerous and deadly effects. We want you to live. So join us in wearing masks, socially distancing and getting vaccinated. Faya and I are going to get vaccinated.
Henry “Hank” Sanders was a Democratic member of the Alabama senate for 35 years.
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