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  • Writer's pictureNick Martinez


Updated: Aug 4, 2020

On July 31st, like many BIPOC, I logged into my Disney+ account to take in Beyonce’s latest visual album, Black is King. An intricately woven celebration of Black People and Black Culture built around the story of Simba’s journey in the Lion King. As I watched I couldn’t help but feel joy, happiness, pride, uplifted, inspired but I also a bit of sadness.

Sadness because of the countless inequities faced by black and brown communities in America that the Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare.

Sadness about the the killings of George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Breonna Taylor which provided further proof of brutality and murders the black community faces at the hands of those who are supposed to protect.

Sadness about being robbed of our connection to the land and people of Africa.

Throughout this pandemic I’ve found it increasingly difficult to maintain my sense of self. You never realize all the small things you enjoy doing until you can't do them anymore. Going to parks and beaches, bars and restaurants, enjoying nights out with friends all have been impacted by the pandemic. How you spend your time shapes who you are. For a long time a part of my identity has been tied to my work. I was a museum and science educator, a mentor, a program manager but around April that identity changed. The American Museum of Natural History, where I have worked since I graduated college in 2011, announced lay-offs. I was one of the fortunate ones. I didn’t get laid-off or furloughed but I had my salary reduced by 40% and was reduced to working 21hrs a week. Financial implications aside the emotional toll the reduction has had on me has been immense.

I’ve always prided myself on doing the best job I can and making sure the work I was doing was being done to the best of my ability but the salary cut was a knife to the gut. A reduction that cut my salary to roughly that which I had when I started at AMNH out of college. The promotion I was aiming for was now null and void. For the first time in my career I was lost, I didn’t know what path I was on, where I was going or how I ended up here. Could I have done something differently, could I have been better, could I have done something, anything, to avoid taking this L. On July 31st, listening to Beyoncé sing on FIND YOUR WAY BACK

"But you just gotta find your way back Big, big world, but you got it, baby Find your way back Don't let this life drive you crazy Find your way back Come back home 'fore the street lights on Find your way back Find your way back"

Filled me with sadness and brought tears to my eyes.

I need to find my way back. Songs where father’s give advice or support all ways get to me a bit because my father was never really around but this particular song at this particular moment really stuck with me because I’ve felt lost for the last few months, more so than at any point prior. I’ve always had a strategy but I’ve struggled to find my way during this pandemic and I know I’m not alone. A single virus has taken hundreds of thousands of lives, impacted the global economies, and shaken the very foundation of the lives of so many people.

I’m working to find my way back, like so many others, but as I do I want to be better and I will not accept what was. I look to the future for more, to be bolder, stronger, more creative, more fearless, more open, and more vocal. As you find your way back, find a better you because as Beyonce says “On a marathon, have to run my race.” RUN YOUR RACE.

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