Nashawn “Nation” Belcher, a 24-year-old college student, is a native Brooklynite who lives in Coney Island. He said his nickname means “I will change the world one day.”
He described himself as a homebody who largely “stays to himself.” There are no strong memories in his mind about living in Brooklyn, but Nashawn has strong feelings about what he has observed in the borough over the past decade.
“Brooklyn has changed to benefit people who don’t look like me,” he said, pointing to the wave of gentrification that has displaced people of color from neighborhoods where they had deep roots.
Nashawn said he had no fear when New York City became the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I wasn’t afraid of anything,” he recalled about the deadly virus, adding that his fear is dying without first living a quality, meaningful life.
During the lockdown, Nashawn still ventured out to take care of what he needed to do.
“Once you pray, nothing comes between God and his blood,” he stated. “I ask God every day for guidance and protection.”
The virus devastated his family. It took the life of Nashawn’s aunt and grandmother.
“They died alone in the hospital,” he said. “We couldn’t say goodbye. But we are sticking together as a family, no matter what.”
He credited his diet for keeping him safe. “Everything can be cured with herbs,” said Nashawn, who shuns fast foods for a holistic diet.
At the height of the pandemic, when fear gripped the public, he criticized the media for limiting its reports of safety guidelines to wearing face coverings, handwashing and social distancing.
“Not one time did they say to stay away from these foods: the hamburgers, the fries, the Dunkin Donuts, stay away from the coffee – not one time in the media did they educate people on how to take care of their bodies – not one time,” he said.
Nashawn was not surprised that Blacks and Latinos died from COVID-19 at a disproportionately higher rate than Whites. Poor neighborhoods of color have long been targeted by the government, he asserted.
“America is known for BS,” he explained. “But no weapon formed against us shall prosper.”
He defended the rioting in response to the police killing of George Floyd. Nashawn said it was an appropriate response to years of racial oppression.
“I could pull out the book on America and what it has done and is still doing – looting, raping people here and in other countries,” he said. “I could bring up Black Wall Street.”