• Alex

Chicago...summer 2020 & Covid-19

Covid-19 came in like a thief in the night and stole most of America’s freedom. Many people in the United States never imagined that in their lifetime they would undergo a quarantine, lockdown, or stay at home order. The Government telling us we can’t go outside or move around freely is all foreign to us. A virus such as Covid-19 is also unfamiliar territory. So unfamiliar, that scientists are trying to figure it out while giving us bits and pieces as they go along. Some people have gone as far as saying that the virus is a hoax, an exaggerated illness, or that certain age groups or nationalities are immune to it. I’ve heard countless theories about Covid-19 since it’s big debut in the United States. However, my biggest observation comes from the city of Chicago’s African American community. Talk of this virus has made many Black Chicagoan’s cautious, but not cautious enough to keep some permanently indoors and away from family and friends.

As I scroll through my social media feed I see many people criticizing others for going outside to jog, having their hair done, nails painted, walking their dogs, riding their bikes. Hell… some people are receiving backlash for spending time with their parents or children who have designated visiting days. Moreover, many Black Chicagoans are swearing that they’re not going outside even after the Governor reopens Chicago, and some have pledged to stay home until February 2021. ALTHOUGH THIS SOUNDS NICE, I HONESTLY BELIEVE THAT MUCH OF THIS IS JUST COLD AND CLOUDY WEATHER TALK.

The fact of the matter is that the weather in Chicago is still kind of shitty right now. It’s cold, rainy, gloomy, and sometimes surprises us with a dash of snow. But when a sample of warm weather (Over 60 degrees for us Chicagoan’s) shows its self, people can be seen on motorcycles, dirt bikes, driving in their vehicles with the windows down and music blaring, the smell of BBQ fills the air, and many people are strolling the streets (this has been seen during the quarantine).Thus, I can only imagine the behavior of people when the weather reaches the 70’s. Lockdown or no Lockdown I’m sure that black people will find a way to enjoy themselves this summer. Black people are a very fun, charismatic, spunky, lively people by nature. Of course you have a few homebodies, but the indisputable fact is that, like a moth to a flickering flame my people are drawn towards a good time. A back yard BBQ or kick back with some dope music, good food, our favorite people, laughter, and a cold intoxicating beverage is glorious to us.

I’ve grown up on the Westside of Chicago most of my life and I would say it’s the liveliest part of the city. It’s vociferous, southern, vibrant ways definitely comes with the territory and are all parts of my personality. Although most Black Chicagoans have a little country in them, our southern roots definitely show on the Westside of Chicago in the summertime. It’s not unusual to see a fish fry, barbecue, spades and dominos game occurring in someone’s back yard all at once, or a birthday party becoming so “turnt-up” that it turns into a block party that’s not closed down until 2 a.m. Simultaneously, the Southside of Chicago also has its areas that are vibrant in the summertime. Such as 75th,79th,87th,95th street, as well as Hyde Park and the Bronzeville area (I’m sure I missed a few). However, their style of enjoying the summer is a little more conventional and upscale. Either way Black Chicago is not going to spend their entire summer in the house looking out the window, or drinking wine while on Zoom. I don’t care how many Facebook post I see swearing to do so; I will have to believe it when I see it.

On Tuesday 4/21/2020 Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated in a daily Covid -19 press conference, “the city of Chicago’s stay at home order could extend until the end of June”. After hearing her announcement, I chuckled to myself as I imagined Black folks hosting secret gatherings in their basements or garages. They’d call each other and discuss who was going to bring the spaghetti, potato salad, ice, and charcoal. They’d probably even require a password to get in and have a hiding place behind a wall to stash their guests just in case the police showed up (similar to the days of prohibition).

Who knows…. the stay at home order could extend well into August 2020 or even next spring (after all this is a pandemic) but I assure you, the longer the stay at home order reigns over our heads the more creative black people will become with socializing and enjoying each other’s company. After all we don’t come from a caveman culture. A lifestyle of drums, flavorful cuisine, gatherings, dancing in the sun, and laughter runs through our veins. Throughout history black people have always found a way to come together and make the best out of the worst situations, and I doubt we’re going to stop now.

In addition, with Chicago being home to 2.706 million people, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker may have a hard time keeping track of whose congregating in their basements, on back porches, or Garages (unless people continue to film their every move via social media lol). The only thing we can hope and ask for is that people gather in the most sanitary and sensible conditions possible (having a house party with hundreds of people is utterly outrageous…like really people). I actually know a few people who require that visitors wear masks and put on latex gloves when they enter their homes. Hand soap, paper towels, and a spray bottle filled with a bleach-water solution is always handy for disinfecting as well. Others are taking it a step further and wearing face shields or goggles.

These precautions may seem weird and may not be 100%, but if people are going to weasel their way into the company of others, doing so with precautions is vital. After all, we can’t and people aren’t going to stay in the house forever no matter what color they are. And those who claim they are, will soon be called outside by a gleaming sun, the 7-day forecast promising 75 and 80-degree weather, the longing for face to face interaction, and a midsummer nights’ breeze on their face. I think this will be a pleasant summer filled with intimate activities. I just pray that people stay mindful of hygiene, sanitation, and focus on small gatherings of no more than 5 people if they must be in the company of others.