Dean Khan –
Around mid-March I left Tallahassee and drove down to see my family in Orlando, Florida, where I expected to only stay for a few weeks. Fast forward 2 months later and I am still home, and still waiting out Covid-19. Initially when coming home I was excited to see my family and take a nice relaxing spring break: my birthday is March 14th and I always end up being able to come home and celebrate with my family because of this. However, this year most of my family was unable to celebrate with me. My grandma only a month before my birthday had been in the hospital for two weeks with pneumonia. Out of fear that we could potentially spread coronavirus to her, I spent my birthday with just my parents and sister. This to me was only a small thing to give up if it meant my grandma remained safe.
Following my birthday, I started to get ready to finish my classes online. I had experience with online classes in the past, so I wasn’t worried about not being able to adjust, but regardless it was still a struggle. Finding a place for me to focus in my home without getting distracted was certainly a challenge, but again I was able to adjust. What I found was that taking all of my courses online required a greater amount of focus and self-motivation than I intended. I also felt like I needed to try harder and focus even more on school to succeed which I don’t believe was necessary. I really started to delve into my schoolwork, for my Radical Visions of Freedom class I spent an entire week working on my final project. I had created a website on the social inequalities that exist within U.S. institutions pertaining to the African American experience and I had looked forward to presenting it since the beginning of the semester. Although I wasn’t able to really present my project, I was proud of the work I put into it and working on it throughout the week really made me start to focus on how coronavirus was impacting people of color. The more I researched, the more I found that of course Covid-19 disproportionately affects. I almost added this into my final project but decided against it because the website was already to big.
About a month passed before I really started to feel the effects of quarantining. One of my passions is going hiking and exploring parks: I love being able to explore and enjoy the natural world and not having access to that was excruciating. I was forced to stay at home out of fear that I could potentially spread the virus to my mom, a breast cancer survivor whose immune system never really recovered after beating cancer. I started to really fall into a rut as a result and only ever felt like doing my schoolwork, eating, and then sleeping. I also felt bad for feeling this way because I knew so many people had it so much worse. I had been keeping up with the news and recognized how many lives were lost as a result of this virus and how big of an impact those deaths would have on families. I felt that feeling the effects of social isolation as a result of quarantining and allowing my mental health to be affected by this was not right, so I took it upon myself to change that. I started to focus on my physical health and took up the hobby of running. Although I am absolutely horrible at running, I still enjoy it and have continued to run. I also started doing some of my old pastimes again and learning some pretty neat magic tricks with a deck of cards. I’ve even started to eat healthier and am now learning new recipes to cook!
While trying to improve my own mental health, I also started to notice the effects of the quarantine on my family. My sister, who was graduating from high school this year was really let down from being forced to miss all of her graduate experiences. She only devoted herself to studying for her AP exams and watching Netflix shows to try and not be upset. I also found that with being stuck at home for over a month, everyone started to get on each other’s nerves. My mom and I would argue about me taking my shoes off while in the house out of fear it could spread Covid-19. My dad argued with my sister about cleaning the dishes. I argued with my dad about waking me up before 11. We all really started to grow spiteful and angry at one another, but that didn’t stick for long. Gradually we eased up on our own feelings of anger from being stuck in the house all day and started to be thankful that we at least had each other during quarantine.
So far, my experiences during Covid-19 have been unexpectedly positive. It has given me the chance to focus on developing myself and strengthening my relationship with my family. Although the virus looks like it will never end, I have hope that it will eventually disappear. What I did not expect during my time in quarantine were the protests over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman. Watching that video infuriated me and gave me a voice that I wanted to use to speak out against the injustice black Americans face. I utilized social media and continue to use it to speak out against this injustice and I am adamant on supporting the peaceful protests occurring throughout the nation. I hope that these protests will really spark change and that the coronavirus will bring clarity on the reality of oppression people of color face in the United States.
-Written June 1, 2020