Last week, much of the nation watched a white nationalist space employ the black optic for ulterior motives. A black woman received the inaugural vaccine as white officeholders looked-on. An obvious question is: why were the elected official not “elected” to take the vaccine first? The obvious answer is that after a year that underscored how much black lives do not matter in this nation, black women as the inaugural recipient of the vaccine seemed to counter this reality. However, the overkill of black presence sends a significant message to, but not for, the black community.
The ambiance within anti-black hegemonic settings proves very telling. For example, I used to work in a higher education setting where most of the faculty was white, but none of the students were. Thus, the education rendered was suitable for profit by whites but not seen as profitable to white students. Similarly, Whole Foods where I live is inundated by migrant workers. I haven’t seen any white workers, but they constitute the majority of the clientele and corporate positions. These ambiances gifts diversity to the plantation politic where the implemented structure must reflect societal hierarchy. In the first example, whites render an epistemological ambiance that enables their students to take on a societal role within the bounds of white supremacy. In scenario two, the supermarket recreated the plantation politic with those of the majority able to shop in a place that posits them as master given those who look like them fail to occupy service positions.
The public vaccine of a migrant black woman conveyed a similar methodology with a covert message to white America. The message proved in conversation with Medical Apartheid and the Henrietta Lacks Story, declaring that the necessary sacrifice had been made to ensure the vaccine will be ready to maintain America’s majority. Specifically, the black woman as the vaccine’s first recipient gifted the white population knowledge and proof that all precations were taken to ensure their safety.
In the same way that universalizing black lives matter was not about black people, but about mobilizing black people for white intention, the public vaccine fulfills a similar evil. The vaccine seems to tie up all loose ends of an unraveling year but emphasizes that old habits die hard in the USA.