If you're reading this, you made it to the last day of 2020. The end of Jumanji: Level 12. The last Thursday of the first year of this already insane decade!
Last year everyone was so hopeful, so ready to ring in 2020 with eyes wide open and vision clear. I had a few events on my calendar that I was excited to attend - a taping of Tamron Hall's show on January 14th, Tommy Davidson's book signing on January 28th, Oprah's 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus tour on February 8th, Ladies' Night R&B Super Jam on February 15th, and The Town Hall's Lena Horne Prize for Artists Creating Social Impact Celebrating Solange Knowles on February 28th. The last event I attended before coronavirus exploded in NYC was Harry Belafonte's birthday celebration on March 1st at the Apollo Theater. On the same day, Governor Cuomo announced the first case in New York. Little did I know that two weeks later, everything would shutdown, and my calendar and birthday travel plans were null and void.
The cluster was rapidly growing in New Rochelle, Westchester County. Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency on March 7th with the number of cases then at 89, including 11 in NYC. On March 11th, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. Later that day, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive after mocking the virus - touching players, their belongings, and mics at a press conference just a couple days earlier. The Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game was seconds away from tip-off when it was officially postponed. Then the NBA announced the season was suspended indefinitely. Donovan Mitchell tested positive on March 12th. So did Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. Bank of America sent word to us on Saturday, March 14th that we'd be working from home until further notice. Dr. Anthony Fauci became a household name. Toilet paper, Lysol, and bleach flew off the shelves. Broadway and other entertainment venues closed. Students were forced to home-school. PPE became critical for healthcare workers. Everyone was told to wear masks. New York City became the epicenter. Coronavirus had changed life as we knew it, and it disproportionately affected African Americans at a much higher rate even though it was initially a running joke that people of color were immune.
The transition to permanently working from home and not being able to go out as usual wasn't easy, but it was necessary. I was glued to the news, like the rest of the world, watching updates and seeing cases rise while Gov. Cuomo held daily briefings about flattening the curve and pleading for help from the federal government. I began investing in the stock market and cryptocurrency when the Dow plunged nearly 3,000 points in March - one of the best decisions I made this year. I also started cooking more... and gaining more weight. I binged-watched a ton of shows and documentaries like "Tiger King," athleisure became wardrobe essentials (sans bras), and Zoom and WebEx meetings were the new normal. Trump wanted the economy opened by Easter and repeatedly played down the virus. In a recorded call made on February 7th, 45 told investigative journalist Bob Woodward that Covid-19 was "more deadly than even your strenuous flus." I should also note that Woodward withheld this information from the public for *seven months* to sell his book, "Rage" that was released on September 15th. By the end of April, I realized how much money I was saving and investing. My days became more routine even when I didn't know what day it was. I got into a groove, a pattern. So did the United States. On April 28th, we hit 1 million coronavirus cases.
The weather became warmer. People flocked to beaches and tired Tulum and Cancun out. We looked forward to Verzuz battles. D-Nice kept us grooving on the 1s and 2s. Beyoncé gave us Black Excellence with Black Is King. Tabitha Brown showed us how to make tasty vegan dishes. We laughed at and shared hilarious memes and watched endless TikTok challenges. The world continued to watch cases rise, but everything changed on May 25th when the video of George Floyd being murdered by cops in Minneapolis went viral. The bystander's video was on repeat on every news station and linked in every article. After being quarantined in our homes for months, people of all races and backgrounds took to the streets en masse to protest police brutality and systemic racism. His death galvanized over 60 countries and ignited an overdue racial reckoning for justice and equality. Let me tell you, this year has been mentally, emotionally, and physically draining! Black fatigue is real. I still remember how I felt like a disconnected zombie answering work emails that started with Happy Monday! Hope you had a relaxing weekend. or Happy FriYay! Hope all is well! :-) These emails and awkward, tone-deaf conference calls continued ALL summer, as if my white coworkers were oblivious to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the trauma their Black colleagues were enduring on a daily. Police bodycam of George Floyd's murder wasn't released until August by DailyMail.com which fanned the flames and intensified my rage all over again.
To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.
Still reeling from the death of Kobe Bryant, the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others, I was beyond exhausted. John Lewis and C.T. Vivian died on the same day. Then I was laid off 5 days after my 36th birthday. Then Chadwick Boseman died. Wildfires raged in Australia and the West Coast. Hurricanes ravaged cities. It felt like the hits just kept coming. More deaths, more destruction, more social unrest, more government ineptitude, more layoffs and unemployment, more uncertainty, more bullshit, more day-drinking. I had several come to Jesus moments! S.E.V.E.R.A.L.!!! It wasn't until after I attended The Commitment March in Washington, DC that I felt energized and revitalized. September 1st made 10 years since I moved to NYC, and I knew that I needed to make some serious changes, set some goals, and get my shit together - pandemic be damned. Luck (or should I say God, Hallelujah!) would have it that I was offered a management position in October at Veracast Communications with better pay, better benefits, a company AmEx card, and a hefty sign-on bonus. The irony is that I'm working with my former coworkers since they are our biggest client. I also started seeing substantial gains in my investment portfolios, and I even lost some weight. Look at God!!!
On November 3rd was Election Day (that turned into Election Week), which eventually saw Joe Biden receiving more than 81 million votes - the most votes ever cast for a candidate in a U.S. presidential election. Kamala Harris will be the United States first female vice president and the first African American and Asian American vice president. So much history has been made in such an unprecedented year. By November 8th, the U.S. hit 10 million coronavirus cases. On November 27th, the nation hit 13 million. On today, New Year's Eve, as we are all eager to ring in a new year and put 2020 behind us, we are on the verge of 20 million cases and 341,000 deaths and counting in the U.S. There are 82.5 million cases and 1.8 million deaths worldwide. There is a new, highly contagious Covid strain spreading in Colorado and California, first discovered in the UK. Many experts have said this will be a "dark winter" although some 2.8 million vaccines have already been administered. I know this sounds hella depressing, but even with these grim stats I have so much to be thankful, grateful, and hopeful for. We all do.
If you did nothing but scrape by and survive this year against all odds, consider THAT a grand achievement. It doesn't matter if you didn't read a single book, or learn how to bake banana bread, or learn a new language, or learn to play a musical instrument, or master a TikTok dance, or start a business with your $1200 stimulus check, or use this time to engage in creative pursuits. It's great if you did, but honestly, none of that shit is important because the only thing that truly matters is your health and well-being. Health is wealth! If you are alive and well and never contracted coronavirus, consider yourself blessed. You won 2020. If you tested positive for corona, and you're feeling much better now and your symptoms are gone (or just mild), then you won 2020. And if you tested positive for 'rona and you're in a hospital on a ventilator fighting for your life or you're at home in quarantine, and your immune system is doing all it can so you can make it one more day and see 2021, then you, too, have won 2020! Please be gentle and kind to yourself, this year has been hard on everyone.
My heart goes out to the doctors, and nurses, and first responders, and essential workers who've been going nonstop since March. Our brave heroes, your selflessness is truly appreciated! You're in my thoughts and prayers. I pray for the families who have lost loved ones and couldn't be at their bedside when they took their final breath or attend their funeral. My deepest condolences to you. I pray for your strength and peace. I pray for every single soul that we loss this year to this wretched virus. Words cannot express the grief we all feel by your absence. You're in no more pain. I pray your souls are at rest. I pray for everyone who has lost a job or a business and have to depend on the government for assistance. January 5th can't come fast enough! Georgia, VOTE BLUE! January 20th will usher in new leadership. I pray God gives Biden, Harris, and his administration guidance to make vital decisions that will help the nation heal, provide much needed assistance, and get us back on the right track. I pray for everyone whose mental health languishes, and you're dealing with depression, frustration, and anxiety. I get it. I understand. Just know you're not alone. We're all in this together.
I must say 2020 has definitely brought me even closer to God. This year has re-taught me how to relinquish my plans and surrender all to the Most High. I'm in the world, not of it. Constant prayer, unwavering faith, meditation, and shadow work has helped me tremendously! God opened my eyes and told me to let go of things that ran its course and to disengage from distractions that misalign me from His divine purpose. He also removed people who were only meant to be in my life for a season. Oftentimes, your elevation requires isolation. You can't take yourself to the next level by sinking to everyone else's. I loved hard on the ones who love me. I chased bliss. I embraced happiness. I count it all as joy, and I thank God for my blessings. Oddly enough, 2020 has been the year of perfect vision... viewed through a spiritual lens. Since perfection can't be enhanced, strive for progress in 2021 regardless of whatever it throws your way. Remember, trouble don't last always!
Sending everyone the biggest virtual hug, peace that surpasses all understanding, unconditional love, light in the midst of darkness, and many blessings beyond measure! I pray you have a safe, healthy, happy, joyous, and socially distanced New Year!
p.s. Please wear a damn mask and continue to wash your hands! Love you deep!!! See you in 2021! xoxo