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WAKE UP AND STAY WOKE: Who Would Have Believed It?

By Dr. E. Faye Williams

From the silly to the sublime, to the serious, faster than the mind can cogitate, our societal norms are being manipulated from the “as expected” to the “never in a million years.” Reflecting on what is presented to the masses daily, I can recall a time when a television series like “The Real Housewives (‘of anywhere’)…” could never have been shown and pimple popping would have been done in the privacy of one’s own bathroom, but no longer.

Frivolity is often the trademark of a “who would have believed” event, but now, more often than not, rather than leaving us amused they leave us shocked, and in dismay and disbelief. The current trend in these events has us questioning how we might provide for increased security and safety for our families and ourselves.

Who would have believed a time during which the seriousness of a public health crisis in the form of a global pandemic would be denied? Can anyone explain when, in the face of such a pandemic, personal interests and comfort became paramount over the interests of the general state of health? Most assuredly, few people could have anticipated this “denial” state of mind among such large numbers of people or that the disease would take the lives of over 900,000 Americans. My bet is that even fewer people could have also guessed the massive

rejection of life saving vaccines. In stark contrast to the current pandemic, the 1950s battle against polio was a lesson in cooperative discipline. With the exception of general masking, Americans practiced extreme social distancing. In his book, Paralyzed with Fear: The Story of Polio, Gareth Williams wrote, “Fearful of the spread of the contagious virus, the city (San Angelo, TX) closed pools, swimming holes, movie theaters, schools and churches, forcing priests to reach out to their congregations on local radio. Some motorists who had to stop for gas in San Angelo would not fill up their deflated tires, afraid they’d bring home air containing the infectious virus. And one of the town’s best physicians di- agnosed his patients based on his “clinical impression” rather than taking the chance of getting infected during the administration of the proper diagnostic test.”


When Jonas Salk released his vaccine in 1955, he was immediately described as a “miracle worker” and, because he did not patent his vaccine, it was universally welcomed and produced in the United States and the world. Acceptance of his vaccine was so widespread that by1980, Polio had been eliminated in the United States.

One must also ask, who would have believed a time in which the history of Black Americans is being openly erased from the curriculum of America’s public schools and from the conscience of the nation? Although barely taught, the instruction of Black History is under assault. It is erroneously labeled as Critical Race Theory and the new threshold of general acceptance is that it is presented in a manner which does not cause “guilt” or “discomfort” to the listener.

Dr. Carter G. Woodson, father of Black History, said, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” He added, “If a race has no history, if it has no worthwhile tradition, it becomes a negligible factor in the thought of the world, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.” For now, the vigilant see psychological eradication as the goal. Will the physical follow?

I guess nothing should surprise us as people now flock to certain gas stations for dinner!

Dr. E. Faye Williams is national chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. Contact her via


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