I have been so angry in these last few weeks because of all the police and civilian killings of Black people, I completely disregarded that there was a pandemic in the country and went to several protests. I practiced every precaution, but now I am concerned that I may have compromised myself being around so many people. Do you think that I should get tested for COVID-19 at this point, or should I just wait to see if I see any symptoms?
Signed, Not Sure What To Do
Dear Not Sure What To Do,
It is not lost upon Muva that so many people have been angry and full of despair in the wake of these tragic deaths. I, too, found myself in the middle of several protests, and like you, realized that I may have compromised myself. So here is my advice to you — go get tested. It is better to know how to prepare yourself to move forward, than to sit around waiting.
It has also been said by doctors and the World Health Organization, that every American, if possible, should either be tested for the virus, or for the antibodies which would tell if you had the virus and were asymptomatic, or through contact tracing. It is the only way that we will be able to know how to move forward as a country and for the safety of all its citizens. To date, well over 100,000 people have died in this country from the coronavirus. While it may be frightening to know that you may have compromised your health, getting tested will prevent you from spreading the virus to others unknowingly. The African American community has been hit HARD, and so to keep your other family members safe, testing is the responsible thing to do. Until you are tested, self-quarantining for 10-14 days is a good idea. The Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium led by Dr. Ala Stanford In Philadelphia, offers free testing. You can find out where they will be testing each week by visiting: www.realconciergemedicine.com
Good luck and be well.
I am a Black man with Black sons and a Black wife, and I am beyond stressed watching all these killings of my people, and I am feeling quite helpless and enraged. I know I should probably get some help before I lose my mind, but quite frankly, I have no idea where to start or who to even trust. I used to be able to blow off steam in the local barbershop, but you already know that we are not able to because of COVID-19. It feels that life is shifting so hard every day; my sleep patterns are off, I am irritable, and most of all I am frightened. What should I do?
Signed, Frustrated And Weary
Dear Frustrated And Weary,
You are certainly not alone in your fears, anger and frustration. In fact, every day I hear more stories from people struggling and not able to fully process the magnitude of what is happening in the country. The pain and anguish for Black people has been magnified because we have been beating the drum for justice for years with no discernable changes. There is a therapist in Philadelphia that solely takes care of Black people by the name of Tonya Ladipo. However, she is by no means the only Black therapist locally — in fact, she is one of several right here in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. That said, she is an example of a professional that will be able to help you via teleconference in lieu of in person visits. In the meantime, I am going to offer you some advice that Tonya graciously offered to many in the last few weeks.
1. Limit your exposure to the news and choose short periods each day to watch the coverage.
2. Go outside and get some fresh air or take a walk. The sun is vitamin D for our melanin skins and walking helps with our mental stress.
3. Find a safe space to cry and reel and scream. Keeping emotions bottled up is not safe or healthy over time.
4. Find a person you trust that is invested in you, and share what you can with them. There are free therapy sessions for Black men with a group called www.blackmenheal.com, if paying for therapy at this point is untenable, since so many people have been unemployed in America due to this pandemic. I wish you well and the peace that you are so desperately craving.
The advice offered in this column is intended for informational/entertainment purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. This column, its author, the Philadelphia Sunday SUN newspaper and publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.