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Robin Adams Cheeley: I’m sorry that my words hurt

Robin Adams Cheeley: I’m sorry that my words hurt

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I’m sorry. This is more than just an apology, and I am sincerely sorry.

Last year, weeks after the announcement that there was finally a COVID-19 vaccine, I wrote a column questioning whether I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get the shot.

I didn’t question the science or the experts. I asked questions because the vaccine’s development had been portrayed as a race to see who could be first and I wasn’t a girl who runs.

I was concerned that the government has shown that it often does not work in the best interest of Black and brown people. We’ve been used before, and for many of us, particularly Black women, the health care system still doesn’t take us seriously. But that’s another column.

I was concerned that the process to develop and approve the vaccine had been politicized.

And I was concerned that because former, yes that’s correct, former President Trump, was not trustworthy, I didn’t have confidence in anything he spearheaded. This was a man who called Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., suggested a judge recuse himself from a case because he was “a Mexican,” referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” gave life to the rumor that former President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., referred to African nations as “s------- countries,” told several congresswomen of color to “go back to where they came from” and so roused his supporters over the years that they ultimately were willing to storm the Capitol and block the peaceful exchange of power that separates a democracy from a dictatorship.

Was I being asked to believe in something that he touted?

None of this should excuse my comments in that Dec. 6, 2020, column.

Fact is, as soon as I was eligible, I took both doses of the vaccine, and I’ve had my booster. And if necessary, I’ll get additional boosters.

I rolled up my sleeves with no worry of becoming magnetic, having reduced libido, being tracked by the gubment or believing that the people at the Travis Scott concert died because they’d been vaccinated.

I knew better. I should not have used this platform to give anybody ammunition to refuse to do what so many have done before — take medical vaccinations to eliminate plagues, scourges and illnesses.

I’m not foolish enough to think my words are powerful or that people heed what I say. I just hate that I added any fuel to that anti-COVID-19 vaccine fire that continues to burn us all.

By now, COVID-19 should be something we refer to in the past. Instead, it and its variants continue to ravage the globe. Consider that:

The sick die alone because family members can’t visit for fear of additional exposure.

Some young people haven’t had in-person or virtual instruction since March 2020 because they are counted as missing or disengaged and may never reenter the educational system.

Medical workers, stressed, exhausted and burned-out, are pushed to the brink of exhaustion but still expected to perform.

Educators were compelled to provide instruction using digital technology that many of them were unfamiliar with and many of their users didn’t have access to.

The global marketplace was halted, causing disruptions in the supply of needed services and goods and endangering access to healthy and safe foods.

Tens of millions of people are at risk of extreme poverty after losing their livelihoods. Mothers with children who experienced challenges with school closings and lack of child care and low-wage racial/ethnic minorities already having financial struggles are most affected.

Businesses, many of them already financially fragile, are forced to implement new business models or close for good.

Disruptions from work, school, social and family relationships caused more adults to report a dramatic increase in alcohol and drug use and children and adults to say that they suffer from anxiety and depression.

And an overall malady from all of us trudging through COVID-19 lassitude.

We need this to be over. And it can be. If people would just take the vaccine. Forget what people like me have said or written, just get the shot.

I’ve tried to use this space to tell truth and share an opinion that might be missing from the conversation. That column was written to open minds, get people thinking and offer new information. It was never intended to do harm. But it’s not the message sent; it’s the message received.

As children, we sang a little ditty that goes, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a lie we told ourselves. I think my words in that column were hurtful. And for that, I’m sorry.


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