A Walk Through The Valley

Nia Leilani

"A Walk Through The Valley” explores the historical, medical and socio-political layers I wrestled with as a Black woman in the decision and process of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The title of my piece quotes a popularly cited Bible verse about having faith through times of adversity: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” Ironically, in the medical context of getting a vaccine where we are taught to rely on facts, my faith—though not necessarily religious—was an essential tool I relied on to see this process through. With this piece, I wanted to illustrate the complexities and inner conflict that came up for me while receiving this vaccine. Ultimately, this is a snapshot within a massive and upending pandemic with so many layers, and I felt it was necessary to capture a piece of what I was feeling through the process of getting my vaccine, to counter the mainstream rhetoric that presented a false simplicity in choosing to be vaccinated.
Nia describes her experience getting her COVID vaccine as a Black woman and the relative safety it provides, while her health still remains threatened by structural racism, patriarchy, and poverty in the United States. The poet says, "Jeremy recites side effects and a timeline until I am considered 'safe' and he confidently states 'That’s it' as if the only suffering worth mentioning ends two weeks after my second shot"


Write about what your life is (or would be) like after receiving a life-saving vaccine. What changes? What suffering ends two weeks after your second shot and what doesn't?


"Two weeks after my second shot, I..."