I’ve been thinking a lot about the word courage lately. It’s been on my mind as I reflect on the end of the political primaries in NYC and the courage it took for so many people to run for elected office. So many people really put themselves out there and presented a vision for their community, raised money, and overcame various obstacles on a daily basis. I have also been thinking about the various ways people have exhibited courage these past few months in their diverse circumstances.
I know I write this often, but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic. For some people, it takes courage to get out of bed each day and face their job, pressures about paying rent and buying food, or the courage to try to overcome crippling loneliness. This pandemic has hopefully shown people that they have a reserve of courage possibly unknown to them previously.
I know many people are still thinking about Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles and the extreme courage it took for them to speak up and speak out. Both young Black women exhibited extreme courage by saying they needed a break. They said this to themselves and to the rest of the world, knowing there would be backlash, accusations, and vile hatred directed at them. These women showed the ultimate courage first to themselves to check in and assess their mental and emotional well-being and subsequently made a series of decisions that would best benefit them in the short and long run. That is an element of courage I hope young people will emulate and I truly hope some of their elders have taken note as well.
I am also thinking about all of the teachers and medical professionals and other essential workers who exhibited courage and resolve during some of our darkest days as a city and as a nation. I truly hope the Delta variant does not return us to the frightening days we experienced during the spring and summer months of 2020. As we prepare for whatever the fall brings, I am reminded of all the essential workers who have been and continue to serve our communities with dignity and courage. They too have families and loved ones who rely on them.
As we prepare for the upcoming academic school year, we must remember that our students and teachers and staff are going to need to occasionally be reminded of their courage. It is my hope that we will continue to see this experience as a collective opportunity to support one another. We can dig deep and find reserves of courage not just for ourselves but to share as an example for others. As Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell…keep going!”
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and also the What’s in It for Us podcast.