Our Stories

We are parents, educators, artists, entrepreneurs and more… we are black excellence, and our stories are diverse. But each is woven by a common thread of our struggles and concerns as we navigate the effects of COVID-19 together.

We are here to curate authentic Black voices in hopes of creating a safe space and source of clarity to help Black folks navigate an overwhelming sea of misinformation.

Josephine is a gospel/R&B singer in Seattle who battled COVID-19 from March through May 2020. While she didn’t want to experience COVID-19 again, she was skeptical of the vaccines when they became available in 2021 – feeling that the vaccines were being pushed with too much urgency and people were making the choice to get vaccinated out of fear, rather than logic.

Ultimately, she decided to get vaccinated in order to better serve her community. It wasn’t an easy decision, but her desire to protect her community, her faith in God, and her trust in medical experts guided her to vaccination.

Bridgette and Kevin are the owners of Central Café and Juice Bar. They opened their doors one month prior to the pandemic and quickly had to adapt their business for takeout dining.

While Bridgette was not hesitant about getting vaccinated, Kevin was. He was skeptical of the fast development of the vaccine and didn’t want to be a guinea pig for unproven medicine. With misinformation swirling, and with so few Black people in medicine in the PNW, he wasn’t sure who to trust or where to turn for answers.

Ultimately, Bridgette and Kevin spoke with Dr. Danielson –a Black physician and professor at UW medicine –who addressed many of Kevin’s concerns. He also watched interviews with other Black medical experts about the vaccine. In the end, he decided to get vaccinated, and that decision has made him more confident in keeping his business open and growing through the pandemic.

For over 30 years Sharon, a clinical social worker, has been a community leader/activist in Leschi and the Central District of Seattle. Immediately when she heard the vaccine was available her mind went to the Tuskegee Experiment, and she became fearful and skeptical for not only herself but her community of being led down the wrong path. In her mind, she knew that in the Black community with all the health disparities it is normal to be fearful and distrusting as well. She wanted to make sure history wasn’t repeating itself.

Sharon’s hesitancy subsided when she took time to pick the brains of doctors and other healthcare professionals in her community to ensure sure she was making the right decision. Once she became educated on the vaccine, she helped many of her neighbor’s fellow church-goers, and even strangers in her community get vaccinated. That assistance included help with scheduling individuals that are immunocompromised and individuals with disabilities.

Neguse is a City of Seattle Community Liaison for the East-African community. Neguse speaks English, Amharic, and Tigrinya, and has been a key factor in helping many hesitant East-African community members get vaccinated at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Neguse relayed that his community is hesitant because they are not familiar with vaccine use in their culture, but will get the vaccine if a trusted community member educates them and if (financial) incentives to get vaccinated are available.

Dr. Harris is a Professor at the University of Washington. She is immunocompromised and in remission from MDS – a form of leukemia. While Dr. Harris was not vaccine resistant, her daughter was.

Dr. Harris felt it is was very important to allow her daughter to make her own decisions about her body. She helped her daughter read up on vaccines, talk to their healthcare provider and, ultimately, make the decision to get vaccinated on her own.

When the COVID-19 vaccine was rolled out, Pastor Willis was hesitant to get it. He didn’t trust the vaccine because he felt it was developed too quickly and because of all of the political involvement surrounding it.

His wife encouraged him to get the vaccine because she wanted them both to be protected since she is a grocery store worker at PCC Community Markets. He also made the decision so he could see his mom who lived in a nursing home. He had grown tired of only being able to talk to her on the phone in the parking lot and seeing her through her window for a year.

Dr. Vassel was pivotal in Pastor Willis’ decision-making process. Once vaccinated, Pastor Willis convinced eight more people (and counting) to get vaccinated.

Tiffany was extremely hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to distrust of western medicine, and concern over infertility.

With a history of asthma, miscarriage due to blood clots, endometriosis, and mental health issues, Tiffany talked with her obstetrician and gynecologist (OBGYN) team about the vaccine. She had anxiety because the vaccine was new and there was no information about what the long-term effects could be.

Ultimately, after prayer, research, and trusting her doctors, she felt it was safe to get her first vaccine shot in October 2021. While she has concerns that she will never be a mom, she is hopeful the vaccine will allow her the chance to be one.

Dr. McRae believes in homeopathic medicine and always has after living in Ghana for 10 years. When she first heard about the COVID -19 vaccine she was not a cheerleader for it. She was extremely hesitant as a Black woman who did not want her body mistreated by Western medicine. She was concerned about how this vaccine could be good for anyone. As the media highlighted all the different options that were presented for the COVID-19 vaccine, she didn’t see a space to ask questions to calm her concerns and hesitancy.

Dr. McRae spent time seeking out information from trusted neurologists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals that were in her community. She also attended forums hosted by HBCU’s and Dr. Danielson, a physician at the University of Washington, who she said has dedicated his practice to the lives of black and brown children. Equipped with proper knowledge, Dr. McRae received the vaccine. Once vaccinated, she became an advocate outside of her job, where she helped schedule vaccinations in 24 hours for 150 Black/African Americans who did not have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. She is committed to assisting communities of color in getting vaccinated.

Additional Stories

Tyler Lockett’s Story

J.B.’s Story