Black community alert: Beloved San Francisco filmmaker Kevin Epps is fighting for his life against COVID-19

Kevin Epps was hospitalized with what is almost surely COVID-19 on April 18. Though very weak, he was sent home to recover. He’ll see well wishes posted on his Facebook page.

by People’s Minister of Information JR, Black New World Journalist Collective

Black community, we need to take the COVID-19 pandemic way more seriously. “Straight Outta Hunter’s Point” filmmaker Kevin Epps, the father of the hood DVD movement, has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19. Kevin and his medical team believe it is the virus, though he is still awaiting the final results from his COVID-19 test, which take days.

“I’m healthy. Clean. No health issues. This crippled me. I’m possibly fighting for my life,” Kevin said faintly into the phone, moments after he agreed to do the interview and we both agreed that the Bay Area’s Black movers and shakers need to do more to educate the everyday young people about how grim times are looking. We can take New York and Chicago as a preview as to the genocidal carnage that can take place in the Black Bay Area if the warnings are not heeded.

“We gotta know, Black people can get this shit. It’s chemical and biological warfare aimed at us. Look at how it is disproportionately impacting the Black community. Seventy percent of the people dying are Black in Louisiana, Michigan, Chicago. California recently got its first death inside the prisons.”

On March 17, Mayor of San Francisco London Breed was the first mayor in the country to issue a shelter in place order, which, according to techcrunch.com, was issued for six counties including San Francisco to try and contain the virus within the Bay Area. Many believe that strategy is working, as the Bay Area’s numbers for COVID-19 infections and deaths are below expectations.

San Francisco is called the gateway to China for trade, as it is on the West Coast, the closest part of the United States to Asia. San Francisco is also the city with the biggest Chinese population per capita outside of mainland China. Two days after Mayor Breed’s order, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter in place order for the state.

On April 18, Kevin wrote on his Facebook page, “(I) woke up frantic. I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was being suffocated. I had a high fever. I was throwing up and coughing up blood, and I had diarrhea nonstop. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever been through. I called 911 and was rushed to the hospital.”

“I’m off of these (prescription) drugs, trying to quarantine and self isolate,” said a weakened Kevin Epps. “I just heard a 5-year-old Black girl in Michigan died from COVID-19. It brought me to tears, and I’m dealing with some serious shit.”

Three days before he was hospitalized, Kevin took this loving picture of himself and his two younger children, son Kamari, 10, below, and daughter Kamia, 6, on the left. His older daughter, Tyler, is a graduate student. He has a lot to live for and is calling for everyone to take the pandemic very seriously. It’s a matter of life and death, literally.

I told Kev that I had seen him on fedbook (our nickname for Facebook) three days prior quarantining with his two youngest children. I asked him what did he do in the span of those three days where he thinks he could’ve contracted COVID-19.

“I went downtown and was dippin’ in and out of the TL (the Tenderloin district of San Francisco). You know they are reckless. They’re disobeying shelter in place orders, gathering in groups. They’re not wearing personal protection equipment – masks, gloves, etc. They just don’t give a fuck. They’re not taking shit serious. Hopefully somebody like me getting it will wake people up.”

Kevin Epps is currently fighting for his life in more ways than one. He is still fighting a trumped up murder charge, brought two years after the incident, which many including myself saw as an act of self-defense against a man who was trying to break into his house, knowingly, while he and his family were home.

Ironically, for the first time in recent memory, COVID has become so critical that it’s taken the place of the murder rate as the top issue in the front of people’s minds in ghettos all over the Bay Area, from East Oakland to Hunters Point to Narf (North) Richmond to the rest of inner-city Amerikkka.

“Anybody can get it. Imagine you taking (the COVID 19 virus) home to your mama, grandmama, sister. You’re gonna be responsible for that death, the loss of one of your loved ones,” said Kev.

From Third and Quesada to Foothill and Greenside in East Oakland, Black teenagers and young adults seem to not interpret this pandemic as real. As the world turns and the bodies mount up, it will have no choice but to become a more earnest consideration for everybody.

Those who ignore it may have to become the examples of what not to do in a pandemic that we will all witness when the body bags get zipped. Kevin Epps’ situation even has me moving a little more cautiously, because I have to preserve my well-being, if for no other reason, I have children and a grandfather that I deal with regularly.

“Health is the most important asset you can have. That rolly, that gucci belt doesn’t mean nothing. All of that is fake shit. Your health is the most important,” scolded Kevin Epps from his bed at the house.

We have to decide individually and collectively if we are going to let the fear of this pandemic keep us in a panic mode or are we going to organize ourselves independently into a force that hasn’t been seen in generations to deal with our overall needs.

Times are definitely changing. We have to decide individually and collectively if we are going to let the fear of this pandemic keep us in a panic mode or are we going to organize ourselves independently into a force that hasn’t been seen in generations to deal with our overall needs. Before you say something to someone else about this article you just read, ask yourself that question.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportTV on YouTube.

Trailer for “Straight Outta Hunters Point 2”