Janet Barber


Mask Up. Read. Resist Right. Fight! 

I can get up now, but starting April, 2019, I bewailed an oncoming otherworldly something every morning that kept me glued to the bed, staring at the ceiling wondering . . . what? Of course, I didn’t know then that the something was a global trauma, a pandemic that was traversing the world. For months, I had to hoist myself up like a mental push against a heavy cement wall, going as far as to tape a note to my ivory stand of my lamp, “Just Get Up!” Then mental whiplash, just a couple of months later, I wish “he” could have gotten up. After learning of the deadly devastation of the covid-19 virus that caused a pandemic, a worldly tragedy befell our already fragile earth space. There were global witnesses to the murder of Mr. George Perry Floyd, a 46 year-old Black male, killed by knee by a white now ex-police officer. Mr. Floyd was lynched. No mental restrain from the officer, and no physical resistance, by law, from Mr. Floyd. Just a senseless death.

In early 2019, thinking that maybe this scream of “what-ness” was a lawsuit issue I had (and eventually won) against a predatory for-profit university where I had been professor and arts & sciences chair, I perused into my brain computer and checked. This didn’t seem to be the reason. This psychic heaviness was a different more spiritual type of work and wonder. I did continue to fret over “what in the world to do . . . about something.” So I stood still; I prayed; I meditated; I read . . . again author bell hooks’ (yes, b & h), Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1990) and Sisters of the Yam (1993); positive psychology enthusiast and writer, Valorie Burton’s Happy Women Live Better (2013) and Brave Enough to Succeed (2017), and then numerous Maya Angelou poems in addition to her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969). These works implore strong women to always prepare (even if they don’t quite know why). I embraced their work; their words, and the Ancestors’ balm. I waited; I prepared. I immediately started “resisting” how this “thing” might affect me mentally. I knew that the it, the actual whatever would change my life, my everyday behaviors, my very freedom. And, of course, at the time, I didn’t realize that this would be true for every human being on the face of the Earth. This whatever revealed itself head on as an invisible enemy in very early 2020. Alas, why would anyone ever think of something this universal; this apocalyptic as being that 2019 taunting whatever? But now I get up; no taunt; no, “what is it?” I’m up, ready to fight and to help. So it is what it is: a sick bat. So be it. Okay. I’m up now. Alive and ready. . . I thought. Then, as mentioned, the world watched as a Black man was lynched by a white police officer. I didn’t know then that the above books were essentially trying to prepare me mentally (and physically) for this horror, as it absolutely hurt. Stand up. Deep breaths. Breathe for him. Stand tall.

We can better understand our own personal ways of resisting by having knowledge of the controls that try to keep us down. Double reading during pandemic lockdowns and righteous protests are imperative. Read: How to be an Anti-racist (2019), by: Ibram X. Kendi; The Great Influenza (2004), by: John M. Barry; White Fragility (2018), by: Robin J. DiAngelo; Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health (1996), by: Judith Leavitt; Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor (2020), by: Laya F. Saad; Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic and the Virus that caused it (1999), by; Gina Koata; Tulsa, 1921: Reporting a Massacre (2019), by: Randy Krehbiel; and The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010), by: Isabel Wilkerson. The latter book is an intense study in understanding the hundreds of years of systemic racism and discrimination against Blacks in the United States of America. 

 George Floyd’s murder is an American tragedy that has spun a new world and way of thinking. Accepting that Black Lives Matter is peace. African-Americans are resisting the absurd freedom of some to just kill at will. African-Americans are joined by many others in humanity to resisting the hatefulness and criminality of the unjustified fear and mentally feeble entitlement of many whites to maintain their age old, discriminatory status quo. We are finding our fighting voices through the masks and singing outside of the cage. The song is in the protests toward justice. The lyric, hopefully, is in the eye of the reader. Know that resistance breeds less suffering and more justice. So, get up. Resist.

Dr. Janet Barber was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina and is a behavioral scientist, sociologist and writer. She has many peer-reviewed, academic articles published in various journals, one published book of nonfiction, a textbook chapter, and numerous works awaiting publication. She is in the process of completing a book of short story fiction, as well as a novel of historical literary fiction. In her more personal, creative, and innovative works, Janet shares that her work isn’t bound by stringent rules, though she allows some formulaic rules to inform her works of writing and creative art . . . allowed only if verbally and visually beneficial. This way, her works “take on a life of their own” she explains in her lectures, workshops and seminars.

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