Like many Americans last week, I watched thousands of rioters invade the Capitol building and shred us of our nation’s dignity.
As an essential worker, I drove to my work office to conduct my usual business, the morning of the breach. After exiting NoMa (the DC neighborhood I work in), my 9 AM drive home felt eerie, tense, out of the ordinary. While commuting home, I saw small communities gathering, maskless and closer than six feet, donning confederate flags and walking towards the National Mall.
The moment I saw these groups gathered, I was angry. I was so tempted to yell, but instead I bit my tongue, cursed under my breath, and moved on about my day. Listening to the radio helped.
I wasn’t mad about their affiliations or what it was that they were exactly “protesting” for or against. In fact, I had no idea what was going on at the time. What I was upset about was how COVID guidelines were being violated.
A few days after Christmas, I lost my bà ngoại (maternal grandmother) to coronavirus. She lived in Westminster, California, a burgeoning city known for having one of the largest Vietnamese populations outside of Vietnam. She and my ông ngoại (maternal grandfather) raised my brother and I, while our parents worked full-time.
For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to cope with her death, and continuously grapple with all the denial that pertains to the pandemic. It’s like every time I see a maskless person or group, I envision my grandmother, happy in her home, tending her citrus trees and letting the sun rays shine on her.
I’m tired of dancing around the truth. Tired of living off facades and loosely believing that everything is going to be okay as the world stands now.
Enough is enough. The fact of the matter is that everything will be okay the moment everyone starts to listen and take this pandemic seriously.
I hope January 6th, 2021 will serve as a slice of American history that we never return to. I wish this devastating day opens our eyes to American policy, to the justice system, to our nation’s checks and balances.
I hope American citizens become more cognizant of how systemic racism, how our education system, how this virus operates. I believe this terrible day in history will remind us of the true fabric of the United States -- a nation of peace and democracy, a country built up by immigrants and people of all creeds.
At the end of the day, I’ve realized this: it’s totally okay to feel all these feelings. It’s important to slow down, take time to process things, and let yourself feel all the good, the bad, and the ugly that life has to offer.
In light of all this, it’s nice to know that my bà ngoại and ông ngoại (maternal grandparents) are together again.
Jackie Reed is a DC area-based radio programmer, music writer, a volunteer for WAMU 88.5 FM and team member on Vietnamese Boat People Podcast. Check out her portfolio at jacquelinerreed.com.