Hopefully, The Black Stepping Community is accepting the gravity of this fatal disease.

Unfortunately, it finally happened. COVID-19 has hit Chicago’s Black community, and specifically the Black Stepping Community. 

Stepping originated in Chicago decades ago first as “The Bop”, and over the years evolved to Chicago Style Steppin’/Steppin’. This beautiful stylized swing dance is now a national pastime for many in the Black community. (It is not the step dance, often performed by Black Greek fraternities and sororities where hand and body clapping, fancy stomping, spoken word, and call and response are used.) 

Chicago Style Steppin’ involves frequent intermittent hand to hand contact and sometimes cheek to cheek. It’s an 8 count for most. It’s sexy and smooth. The creative turns and innovative footwork, and dipping moves give it lots of swag. I love, love, love the dance! I step monthly sometimes weekly at 2-3 venues. It has remarkable word of mouth and is an important financial resource for many organizers. Yet, since the outbreak, the Chicago Stepping Community has been painfully silent about COVID-19, until now.

A few days ago, I learned about an associate of mine, who was exposed to someone with COVID-19. The infected person is currently hospitalized. Neither came forward for fear of being ostracized. I posted on Facebook about this incidence and how many win the Black community have adopted the attitude of believing that we are immune to COVID-19. It was picked up by the Ujamaa Network and is easier to read here.

Included in my Facebook post are several reasons that keeps Black folks’ heads stuck in sand:

• We believe our DNA protects us. It’s as if the melanin has some type of super power

• We are social people; church, stepping, reunions, parties, are difficult to give up

• We still have issues around medical racism: Recent research that I conducted on behalf of a bio tech company reveal Black culture, race, racism hugely impact the Black patient’s healthcare journey

• Although America is diverse, it is also still very segregated. Black folks, especially, still live in communities where we are likely to exclusively live, socialize, worship with each other

• We are traveling and cruising internationally, but not to the same extent as White America 

• We have not seen high numbers of Blacks with the disease in our communities (or in Africa )

• Jesus/God will cure of all of our ills

Importantly, yesterday, three eye opening stories challenged Black America’s misguided beliefs:

1. Popular and beloved Chicago stepper, Pharies Henderson, had the courage to come forward to announce, on Facebook, that he is infected with the virus. 

I don’t know him, but have heard wonderful things about him. Now, unfortunately, and fortunately, there is a Black face to the virus in the Black stepping community. As of this writing, his post has over 650 likes and 500+ positive comments. 

2. Idris Elba also announced that he is infected with the virus and reprimanded the Black community for holding on to myths that could endanger not only themselves but the Black community at large. 

3. In addition to the two Black NBA players who early on tested positive, Cristian Wood of Detroit Pistons and Donavan Mitchell of Utah Jazz,  Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets announced that he has tested positive with the virus.

Hopefully, my Facebook post, Pharies’ post stepping forward, Idris Elba’s rant and the unfortunate spread of the virus to Black NBA players has helped foster an important and badly needed conversation in the Black community and especially among the influential Black stepping community.

It’s tough, but I believe social distancing with a plan will save lives.

I’ve been staying in as requested. No stepping for me until I am confident that I, and those in my community and city are safe.