PERSONAL
06/06/2020 06:00 BST | Updated 06/06/2020 12:59 BST

Shielding From Covid-19, I Can’t Physically Protest For Justice. I Still Want To Be Heard

My asthma means I cannot go and scream alongside others during this pandemic. But please remember me when you scream.

I have always known racism would kill me, but I have never known how. 

They don’t tell you that. They tell you you are more likely to die in childbirth, more likely to die in police custody, in prison or on the border, more likely to be in a mental health institution, more likely to be exposed to pollution or have diabetes, high blood pressure, childhood asthma - the morbid list goes on and on. 

I cannot go outside. 

It is because you stole our bodies. It is because our bodies and our minds are still trying to recover from the violence of ancestors we cannot find the names of. It is because we are still trying to deal with the putrid impact of racist attacks that happened last decade, last year, last month, last week, or as we speak, in the midst of fighting this new virus. 

I was told it would be asthma, that would be how racism would kill me. 

I cannot go outside. 

I actually know, and have known since I was a child, what it is like to feel like you cannot breathe

I was told my lungs would kill me when I was a child – not exactly when, but that at some point they would.  I wasn’t told it was because I was Black – and I certainly was not told it was because of white supremacy and capitalism’s inability to live in some sort of harmony with the environment. I was told my childhood asthma was just unlucky. I actually know, and have known since I was a child, what it is like to feel like you cannot breathe. I have been scared of my own death most of my life. 

I cannot go outside. 

What I am not used to is not being able to do is contribute. I have been politically active my whole life. My mother and my aunts started Abasindi, a cooperative for black women in Manchester. I was bought up in the Nation of Islam. I have marched with my mother and my family since I was young. I have demanded reparations, demanded justice for so many people. I founded Rainbow Noir, a community action group for QTIPOC, and The Rebel Man Standard in collaboration with amazing people. I have worked with Black Lives Matter UK, and with the QTIBIPOC Hardship Fund.

But right now, I just can’t quite figure out this moment. This moment right now where I feel like I cannot contribute, because I cannot go outside and scream for justice with you.

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Protestors gather at a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest organised by BLM Southampton outside Southampton Guildhall in Southampton, England
I want us, together, to think of a way that I can be involved in the next round of screaming.

We have all had to shield ourselves from racism at some point in our lives – I just happen to be shielding now. None of us that can be there physically, can be there all the time. My time is just now. Your vulnerability, the ways your Blackness may be used to kill you can show up at any moment. I happen to have been given my notice when I was four years old in a doctors’ surgery – and the answers, I was told, were in a pump.

But I know the answers to my weak lungs are in a resistive strategy that centres Blackness, disability, trans and queer lives and the environment. I cannot be there with you to scream, to chant. It is not safe for me. It is not safe for you, but you have your choices and I have mine. 

I want you to remember me when you scream. I want us, together, to think of a way that I can be involved in the next round of screaming. There is no movement that leaves anyone behind. Know that, feel that, remember that, and find more ways to include me. 

Zinzi Minott is a dancer, artist and activist. For more information on her work, visit zinziminott.com, and follow her on Instagram at @zinziminott. Her latest project is a digital mourning space, The Nine. She encourages you to donate to the UK QTIBIPOC Hardship Fund, United Friends and Family Campaign and Grenfell United.