Black America and Covid

by Sonja J Killebrew

HOW HAVE BLACK AMERICANS BEEN IMPACTED BY COVID-19? Are you a Black American who has lost someone during the Covid-19 pandemic? Are you a Black American who didn't lose anyone and you want to share what it was like to work and live during the Covid-19 pandemic? Are you a non-Black American who lost someone close to you who was a Black American and you want to share their life story? Do you want to share your story about t ...   ...  Read more

Podcast episodes

  • Season 1

  • Interview 079 with Osumanu Adamu

    Interview 079 with Osumanu Adamu

    Listen to Bronx native Osumanu Adamu share about living and working in New York City during the Covid-19 pandemic. He worked in-person from June 2020 until he caught the coronavirus at the end of 2020. He endured it for three months. When he finally recovered he went back to working in-person in 2021. He still works for his employer, which paid him while he was out sick for three months. He talks about what life was like working in-person and returning to college in-person during as the pandemic slowly ended.

  • Interview 078 with Ray Walker

    Interview 078 with Ray Walker

    Listen to Bronx native Ray Walker—the founding director of New York City’s first urban boarding school for young men in Brooklyn, New York—share about living and working during the pandemic. He talks about his ancestors who trace back to Jamaican, Irish, and Scottish descent. He describes the opportunity to become a first-time homeowner in the pandemic, transitioning to focusing full-time on the mission of The Stokes Foundation, and overcoming Covid-19 twice. Time Stamps: 1:24 Ray talks about his ancestry, family lineage, and growing up in The Bronx 12:00 Ray talks about Prep 9 and matriculating to Deerfield Academy boarding school 14:45 Ray talks about what life was like before the pandemic 25:22 Ray talks about returning to New York City in September of 2019 30:29 Ray talks about having a cough in early 2020 and transitioning to working-from-home 39:12 Ray talks about his return to Stokes Foundation full-time and his mission 44:53 Rays talks about a young man named Oshane Davis who earns a 5-year scholarship at Northeastern University 48:31 Ray talks about what it was like to buy a home during the pandemic 51:51 Ray talks about attending the Santa Clarita film festival in California 54:10 Ray talks about a film titled “Vaccinate Watts” with Dr. Jerry P. Abraham 58:40 Ray shares the website for anyone who is interested in learning about The Stokes Foundation at 1:06:08 Ray shares about his experience getting vaccinated and then catching Covid-19 1:11:51 Ray talks about having Covid fog/brain after battling Covid for 3 weeks On catching Covid-19 twice: “The whole household caught Covid, including the baby. The baby processed it the quickest, but it was the most painful for us to watch as parents because he was just devastated by what COVID did to his little body: the coughing, the inability to breathe, the fever. And all we wanted to do was comfort him even though Cindy and I were both sick. Cindy's body processed it within like three to four days. For me it was like lingering…cough and other things…like four to five days of the worst ailment that I've ever had in my life. So it just gave me this like healthy respect for people who had to be intubated…”

  • Interview 077 with Sean Waltrous


    Interview 077 with Sean Waltrous


    Listen to photographer Sean Waltrous whose family emigrated from The Caribbean—Trinidad, Barbados, and Jamaica—and who is from Brooklyn, New York share about his life at the beginning, middle, and (approaching the official) end of the pandemic. At the beginning of the 2020 lockdown Sean was tending to his sourdough starter and gardening and binge-watching television. Then, when the murder of George Floyd video came out, Sean documented the events of 2020 and 2021 and went outside… [The "Explicit" rating is for just a few cuss-words in this episode.] While listening to Sean take us on a photographic journey of protests in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and D.C. click on his Instagram page @seanwaltrous and follow along as he talks about the events of the pandemic. Then click over to his website and experience the Insurrection of 2021 and the Inauguration of 2021 through his historical photographs as he describes documenting the events. “I had for a long time always gone out to protest actions and photographed them, but I never really, you know I never really, you know, posted them. It's more just, you know, a thing I did for myself personally. The first protest that I photographed was actually when I was in college. It was in 1996 or 1997—around there—and it was a it was also a police brutality protest. So, when the protests started to happen, because of COVID I was a little reticent to go outside, you know. Still a lot wasn't known about how much transition could happen outside and I was, you know, trying to be cautious and I am also slightly older now than when I first started out going to these actions. So, I, you know, it was kind of my, the idea for me was like, ‘The kids got it.’ You know. It's gonna be okay…you know they seem to be out there and it’s in their hands, and then I just started seeing more and more reports of like you know vicious brutality with these protesters and then the curfews started to happen, and it felt more like an all-hands-on-deck situation. So, I got myself together and loaded up my backpack like a doomsday-prepper and had all of the Purell and the wipes and the extra masks and so on and so forth and I started to go out and photograph actions that were happening in New York City.” "Cancel Rent. Defund NYPD." Housing Justice Is Racial Justice Rally and March. Crown Heights, Brooklyn. 7/2020. (Posted July 24, 2020 on Instagram). While in D.C. at the 2021 Insurrection: “…The Trump supporters then turned around and started filming me and asking me if I was doxxing people and it became a little chaotic…because I was also on a livestream on Instagram too, and people were like, ‘Get out of there! Get out of there!” Sean’s photography memorializes the lives of the many Black people murdered by the police, including, but not limited to Ahmaud Arbery, Brianna Taylor, and George Floyd.

  • Interview 076 with Kevaughn Hunter

    Interview 076 with Kevaughn Hunter

    Listen to Adjunct Professor and writer Kevaughn Hunter who was born in The Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, New York share about living in New Jersey during the pandemic. His family is from the island of Jamaica and he identifies as either Black or African American. “I remember actually being in class teaching, and I think it must have been the beginning of spring semester, when the news was coming out. This is the earliest memory that I have, because I remember sitting on my desk in an English class and the students were talking about, I think, that the college was thinking about closing or postponing or something and we were like, ‘I don’t think that will happen,’ because it’ll only be maybe a week or two and then we’ll be back. And then we weren’t back for a couple years…” “…In Jersey when the when the mask mandates were out and if we were to go to a store, pretty much everyone would be wearing something. Especially if we were near Asian areas...I studied Japanese. I went to Japan. This is part of why the mask stuff to me wasn't a bother, because when I was in Japan in high school for example, if someone was sick they wore a mask. It's not like a big deal. So, I never grew up thinking that was a big deal. But, and so, in that same vein people would wear masks and no one really would treat it very differently, because of the area I guess. But then the one or two times we did go to the city in my area in Canarsie in Brooklyn almost no one was wearing masks going into stores, and people were going to like beef patty stores, and like super crowded areas. If you've been to places like that and no one's wearing a mask and it's like okay, well, that's not, some things might spread worse that way…”

  • Interview 075 with Jahmani Perry

    Interview 075 with Jahmani Perry

    Listen to filmmaker, photographer, and writer Jahmani Perry of Brooklyn, New York—whose parents are from Jamaica, West Indies—share about living and working during the Covid-19 pandemic. He identifies as Black and Caribbean American. In early 2020 Jahmani was living on Long Island. When the coronavirus began spreading in March of 2020, he shared: “I was looking for a new place…to move into the city and…and then I was like, wait a second, ‘What's going on here?’ You know? They kept talking about shutting down the city…It was very disorienting, you know?” On photographing New York City during the pandemic: “I did take photographs. Yeah. Yeah. In the beginning it was like, ‘I gotta document this…as much as I can… This whole series project that I'm working on is about New York for the last...people about New York for the last 30 years. So…of course I have to document what I see, what I experience, you know? …That was surreal… There's a part of me that said, ‘Oh my God you gotta be careful. I was going on subways. I was going everywhere. I did go to many different places to try to document and to photograph as much as I can and to not be afraid.” On including photographs of New York City during the pandemic in his upcoming exhibition, Asphalt Spirits NYC Part II: 1999-2022: “…That would be part of the show yes. Yes…things that happened during the Black Lives Matter movement…It was amazing… At first, I was like, ‘Should I go out with all these people?’ Then I put on my mask… I had to be there… I went to a number of demonstrations… My photographs are about people…whether it’s Black Lives Matter, whether it’s a protest, or everyday life… I’ve been photographing since 1976. I’m very much about being in people’s faces…But, you know, my work is about, you know, seeing people with the fullness of who each each human being is and, and, you know, intimate way and, and, and, how do we begin just, you know, to see each other, you know, beyond the biases that, you know, can creep into our thought process, and even brain and see each other as, you know, as really fellow human beings.” On meeting Gordon Parks: “…I had met Gordon Parks and Gordon Parks actually saw my work. When I was in college a professor of mine knew him very well. She and Gordon were good friends. And she brought me to his house and we spent an afternoon with him and me showing him my work and him talking to me about my work and giving me advice and encouragement.” Jahmani Perry is continuing Gordon Parks’ legacy of photographing New York. Check out Jahmani’s photographs on his website: