San Diego writers chronicle life 'In the time of COVID and uprising'
Speaker 1: (00:00)
If you ask someone, what issues have defined the last two years, chances are, they're gonna tell you the pandemic, of course, and the racial reckoning that surge after George Floyd's murder, these major events and cultural shifts have changed all our lives at the large and micro level. So what stories will we be telling our few yourselves and generations about this time, a new book reclaiming our stories in the time of COVID and uprising aims to capture some of those stories with a focus on black and brown writers. The book features 13 original essays that capture what it means to live during this time. Joining me to discuss this is one of the editors of this new compilation, Ebony Tyree. Hey Ebony. Hello. As well as contributing writer and community advocate, Ana Laura Martinez. Hey ANNAA hi, Ebony. I wanna start with you. This book's 13 essays really cover a wide range of experiences from the uprisings in LA Mesa last year, to being detained in OTI MEE said during the pandemic, why did you think it was important to put all these narratives and perspectives in conversation with one another, just
Speaker 2: (01:09)
As in previous additions of reclaiming our stories, we think it's important for the stories and narratives within our communities to be shared and highlighted. Um, and so this addition of claim, our stories came together, of course, with that at the heart of it, right? That's the essence of the series. Um, but I think as always, you know, these, this book is just timestamped, right, as a particular moment, but as community members and folks who love one another, we're always in conversation. We're always talking. And I think Paul Alexander, Paul Lopez and Darius Spearman and Roberta Alexander, we said, you know, we're hearing what's happening in the community. Uh, and we know our folks are out there, um, protesting, having experiences and we should collect them. So we decided that's what we would do, um, because we're always telling our stories and sharing with one another, just because we're in community and we love one another. And we were just thinking of a way, how can we capture this? Um, because we know the stories in our communities are so important to be sharing
Speaker 1: (02:15)
Anna Lada. Your contribution to the collection is called compounded by fear in which you share an intimate story about how you reacted after learn, you had been exposed to COVID 19, as well as the long wait for test results. Why did you choose to write about this particular moment?
Speaker 3: (02:31)
So, on my end, it was just kind of reflecting like on the first summer during COVID pre vaccines and just the fear and the uncertainty. And for me, I wanted to share something that reflected on that fear, especially as a working class woman of color, with bad experiences in medical, industrial complex, and also reflection on how no one is disposable. Um, especially knowing that those most impacted are folks of color, particularly chronically ill and folks with disability
Speaker 1: (03:05)
In your essay. You say, I couldn't help, but wonder if I'm bringing death home. How did you process that fear? That fear that I think is really relatable to so many people in our communities.
Speaker 3: (03:17)
So it was a fear that we is debilitating at first and it was a reckoning. Like it's a feeling that I hadn't felt before in that kind of intimate way. So I think that's part of the fear that was like debilitating for me. And that was, that was something that I had a process with family members, but it was really hard just really processing through or that like, have I, have I brought this to someone, right. Especially knowing, you know, pre vaccines. It was so uncertain, like where this would take us. Um, so that fear, that's kind of why I wanted to reflect on that fear. And I wrote, and I just read the, the story for the first time in over a year. So it was unsettling to kind of go revisit that, that moment, those feelings,
Speaker 1: (04:06)
You said that at the time, a lot of your own fear was compounded by the larger struggle that black and brown communities are facing during this pandemic. Can you say a little bit more about
Speaker 3: (04:14)
That? So by that, I really meant really thinking through how most people being , um, impacted by COVID in terms of dying and contracting, where folks who are black, brown, chronically ill people with disabilities, and really understanding that these folks, majority of the time don't have access to good medical care.
Speaker 1: (04:36)
Ebony, you didn't just co-edit this book. You also contributed in say about what it was like parenting during the pandemic, while working full-time as a professor, you share a story about your son trying to boil an egg without water, which you say really illuminated the gaps in our lives. Can you tell me a little more about what you meant and why you shared this particular story?
Speaker 2: (04:58)
Well, yes. One, because it was hilarious and very sad at the same time. It was a moment that, you know, I mentioned in the story, you know, maybe I just laughed to, to keep from crying. Uh, and I was actually working on, on the editing this book, I was on a zoom with my colleagues and, you know, I had to show them that the egg that was burned in, in the stove. And I definitely will say that, um, it changed my perspective on my, my children, my, my ideas of mothering, right. What their everyday lives are. Like, I realized that I wasn't, I don't spend that much time with, and during the day, and there were so many things I didn't realize about them and I feel like, or, or myself as a parent. And, um, I feel like the pandemic, uh, for me was that was just a microcosm of probably many things that we are seeing as Anada pointed out. So many gaps, just even in the medical system. Well, and I, here, I was recognizing the gaps in, in my parenting, uh, and how I think to some degree I was, I was neglecting my children who were there because I was also trying to work at the same time, laugh
Speaker 1: (06:13)
To keep from crying. I know that something that's relatable to all of us, you know, as we're winding down in the new year, what do you hope people take away from this new book of essays and why do you think they should read it Ebony and then loud at please?
Speaker 2: (06:27)
What I want people to take away? What I would hope they take away from this is just the, the realness, right? What black folks experience indigenous Mexican folks experience in this country every day, but also in this, you know, very, I don't know, pivotal time, how much we are impacted by what's happening. Um, and I think folks should read it because I think everyone can read this and take a story and say, Hey, you know, that was me or someone I knew, uh, during this pandemic. How
Speaker 1: (07:01)
About you in a Lada?
Speaker 3: (07:02)
Yeah. So one of the things I want folks to take away is really thinking through how we must practice radical care. You know, I think of the quote of Gracely bogs of like the only way to survive is by taking care of each other. And this book is really a reflection of those little different glimpses of being, you know, of folks in San Diego and their experiences with COVID. So, but really thinking about like how important community is because we all have navigated very difficult moments. And I just really wanna just appreciate just like Ebony and the rest of the facilitators with pillars of the community, for cultivating in a moment, it was so difficult and challenging.
Speaker 1: (07:42)
I've been speaking with Ebony Tyre, a professor, and co-editor of reclaiming our stories in the time of COVID and uprising and Anna Lada Martinez, a contributing writer and community advocate. Thank you both so much for your time. You're welcome.
Speaker 2: (07:56)
Thank you so much.
“I couldn’t help but wonder if I am bringing death into my home,” writes Ana Laura Martinez in the new book of essays, "Reclaiming Our Stories In the Time of COVID and Uprising."
Her essay, “Compounded by Fear,” which chronicles her fear after being exposed to COVID-19 before vaccines or tests were readily available, is one of the book’s 13 original stories written by emergent San Diego writers.
Published by San Diego City Works Press, the compilation is the third in the "Reclaiming Our Stories" series that began in 2015 as part of a writing project started by Pillars of the Community, a local group that provides support for people in Southeast San Diego after incarceration.
The series' goal is to cultivate community and center the perspectives and stories of San Diego’s Black, Latino, Indigenous and disabled writers and residents.
The latest book, "In the Time of COVID and Uprising," is a special edition and the first in the series to be organized around a central theme. All of the collection’s essays focus on what it’s like to have lived in San Diego during the pandemic, the 2020 Presidential election, and the increased call for racial justice after the death of George Floyd.
“We know our folks are out there protesting, having experiences and we should collect them,” said Ebony Tyree, the book’s co-editor and contributor. “We decided that’s what we would do.”
From what it was like to protest in La Mesa to being detained in the Otay Mesa Detention Center during the pandemic, the stories Tyree and her fellow editors compiled provide a wide range of experiences that together create a timestamped portrait of the past two years.
“One of the things I want folks to take away is really thinking through how we must practice radical care,” said contributing author Martinez. “I think about the quote from Grace Lee Boggs, 'The only way to survive is by taking care of each other,' and this book is really a reflection of those little different glimpses of folks in San Diego and their experiences.”