by Deesha Philyaw

At the Juneteenth commemoration/Antwon Rose anniversary rally someone takes a picture of my daughters taking a knee. I make a mental note to walk to Home Depot later and buy gas masks for them, which they will probably accept to placate me but not actually wear. Then I remember something about a Home Depot boycott, so I search online for specifics.

The Home Depot query sends me down a rabbit hole. Via social media I’m a virtual witness to the collective chipping away at white supremacy: boycotts and callouts; statues toppled; calls to defund the police and abolish prisons. Copaganda photo ops featuring kindly officers interacting with Black people.

A local Black church creates the hashtag #LetUsHelpYou, offering to assist white people with their “racial fear.” On Facebook, I scroll to this and think, Get off your fucking knees.

Since sheltering in place, I try to go for a long walk every day. I drive my car around the block once a week. I’ve only driven longer distances a handful of times since the pandemic hit, usually to deliver an order for my youngest daughter’s bakery business. Business is booming. Earl Grey cupcakes with lavender icing are a favorite, as are the chocolate Kahlúa cupcakes with Heath Bar crunch.

Business is booming for me too. My short story collection comes out in September; by fall, I’ll be a pro at online appearances. I bought a selfie ring light. I haven’t gotten Zoom fatigue. In fact, virtual meetups and writing sessions and happy hours and movie dates are getting me through this.

In addition to the ring light, I’ve bought books, dried flowers and herbs, candles, incense, essential oils, a variety of teas, syrups, and honeys. I signed up for a CSA box and tried sprouting green onions in shot glasses on my kitchen windowsill. I’m saving the rest of the vegetable scraps to make broth for portobello mushroom and Malbec gravy. Never much of a baker, I’ve perfected buttermilk biscuits.

Sometimes I think this would be easier if I had a partner, but then I hear the neighbors, a white couple, screaming at each other again. There was no screaming before the pandemic. Once, I heard her scream something about him pushing her down the stairs. I knew the cops wouldn’t kill them so I didn’t hesitate to call 911.

Published on June 24, 2020