“In the future, as in the present, as in the past, black people will build many new worlds.
This is true. I will make it so. And you will help me.”
― N.K. Jemisin (a Black woman who be knowing)
Hey Beautiful People! I hope errbody is staying safe, staying sane and staying as sexy as the conditions will allow. Today is an unexpected Part 2 discussion with my fiance, Keith. We felt the need to sit down and process what’s going on, how we’re coping with ‘Rona and what we’re hoping for when we return to this new world.
As always, listen to the audio for the full conversation. Read, listen, comment, share, discuss, subscribe and follow Blackwomenbeknowing on IG!
Love and light!
This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
BWBK: Black Women Be Knowing, the COVID edition, sitting here right now with my Quarantine Bae, my Everyday Bae, Keith. You wanna say hello to everybody?
Keith: Hello everyone!
BWBK: The last time we had an episode, it was under very different circumstances.
Keith: The world was normal.
BWBK: It was “normal” and fast-forward a little over two months later and we’re about to have a very different conversation. Because we’re around each other a lot more, in close quarters, like everyone else now, I wanted to process what’s going on in the outer world but also in our internal world-just so people can understand that we’re all trying to get through this shit the best way we can.
Tell me in 5 words- you know I love my 5 words- or phrases, how are you feeling right now with the whole pandemic?
K: I would start with the words overwhelmed, anxious, definitely optimistic, definitely frightened and I’m gonna round it off with opportunistic.
BWBK: You got a lot of “O” words. Was that intentional?
But it’s interesting because I didn’t think you would’ve said those words. For those of you who listened to the last episode, Keith is cool as a cucumber, smooth operator and so when he says words like overwhelmed, anxious and frightened, those are not words I am accustomed to hearing come out of his mouth… cause he thinks he’s that nigga. So it is humbling [I would assume for you] to say those types of words.
For me, I’m definitely grateful that I’m healthy, that I’m breathing. Of course, I feel very uncertain- we really just don’t know what we don’t know. I’m busy. I realize I am speaking from a place of privilege cause I did not lose my job. I don’t have a pause in my income or my workflow. I’m working from home. I am quite relaxed which has a lot to do with my financial stability. Last, I would say, I’m going through a metamorphosis. We’re all in our homes, kind of like in a cocoon and I hope we come out on the other side, [positively] transformed.
K: I can elaborate on [my words.] I’m overwhelmed because everything is dramatically going to shit. My life is not over but as far as the life that I’m accustomed to… the life that I know… the world that I know… that no longer exists. I’m definitely feeling like my next move better be my best move. I’m an entrepreneur- I don’t have a job so I need to figure this out and that’s why I’m anxious. I’m optimistic because I know I can figure this out. I’ve been in a tight squeeze before. I’m frightened cause I don’t know how this is gonna turn out. But I’m also opportunistic because I know something is gonna come out of it.
BWBK: Thank you for elaborating on that. You kind of started hitting on my next question. What has been some of the challenges of this entire COVID crisis? i.e. “This is what’s irking my fucking spirit…“
K: As an entrepreneur, I really need to pivot and take my business sense and business savvy to the next level. That’s what entrepreneurs are made of- [taking] the opportunities. Strategy is gonna be key moving forward.
BWBK: You took that from a professional standpoint and I guess that’s where your head is at. I guess to go back to one of my original words, uncertainty, I think if someone could tell us, “This is the date. You just gotta ride it out for like 3 months and then shit’ll go back to normal.” It’s kind of hard to strategize when we don’t have the intel.
I love memes and someone wrote, “We’re fighting two pandemics: COVID and stupidity.” The challenge for me are those people who feel like they’re the only ones being put upon and the rest of us are at the beach. We’re all antsy. People are worried about their bread, their jobs; people had to cancel [important] plans. For those who celebrated birthdays in late March, April and moving forward, they didn’t get to celebrate these monumental moments in the ways that they would have liked. So there is a lot of hurt, a lot of disappointment.
So when these motherfucking white supremacists talk about “Stop infringing on my rights and my freedom,” I’m just like well freedom ain’t free motherfucker and stop wearing a scarf while you protest since you don’t think this is so serious.
But even though things are challenging, I had way more positive words than negative and I wanna stay in that vein of positivity. What have you been doing to stay sane because cabin fever is real?
K: First and foremost, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to [my next move] and looking for resources in terms of my entrepreneurial goals. Also, I’ve attended a couple of conferences online- those were soothing to me mentally and gave me a lot of bandwidth as far as resources and ideas. Hearing from people like Eric Thomas, the #1 motivational speaker in the world and just hearing, “Everything is gonna be alright” from someone like that was calming. It helped me gather my thoughts and formulate a plan.
I actually participated in a webinar [BWBK:, shout out to Ratchet Assets!]. I haven’t been sitting by idly but I have had a day or two here and there [where I’m chilling.]
BWBK: I have to work. So I’m not bored. I clearly have shit to do. That’s been an adjustment-working from home. You realize that you be in too many motherfucking meetings. It’s like, “Wait, what you need me for now? You ain’t need me this much when we were in the office.”
Homeschooling has definitely been keeping me on my toes. Our son is 4 years old and it’s been great to watch him develop. I’m a working person- a working mom- I’m a worker. To know that I’m contributing to him developing his vocabulary and adding with blocks is really important to me because academics is the most important thing to me after of course, my kids being good human beings.
The other thing that has kept me sane is the virtual happy hours that I’ve done with Black Excellence- shout out to them! It’s really helped me to stay connected and that matters to me.
K: To piggyback off that, I have been enjoying some Zoom meetings with my family. Taking advantage of technology and seeing each other and knowing that everyone is ok is really important.
BWBK: What has been giving you life during this quarantine? We are still among the living and it can be hard when you see the death toll numbers everyday. So I have to find ways to give myself life. How are you doing that and what is giving you life whether in your real life or on social media?
K: What’s giving me life? My future wife, my kids, going through this experience with them is everything. My family has been keeping me calm through this pandemic. Social media is there but it’s not helping me cope or make sense of what’s going on. It’s there for information and I take that lightly. I don’t use social media to try to make me feel better. I’m grounded in my own life.
BWBK: So, I’m interesting when it comes to interacting with social media because there are some aspects that are definitely giving me life.
Right before we started recording the podcast, I was listening to D-Nice because Club Quarantine has definitely been giving me life. We watched Diddy’s State of Emergency and that was important because of the way Diddy [decided to use] his platform but also because our community decided we needed to talk about [COVID] because it’s gonna have long term-effects for us. [As a community,] we didn’t see the seriousness of this in the beginning but now we’re gonna use all of these voices to leverage the message [of protecting ourselves and showing up for ourselves].
I definitely enjoy being home with you and Boo Boo. Kaori will be home soon so I’m looking forward to that but as you said earlier, I really appreciate the way some people have used this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves.
I love to see people in my circle, and Black people in general, win. Shout out to Cynthia, @willieclara on IG. I love her pictures because it’s just her being happy. She posts these really cool pics of her in different prints: she’ll have on plaids and bow ties and polka dots but she’s always put together. She’s also in the park just hanging with her sister. She’s doing Black women fun shit. She’s like, We riding bicycles but we riding bicycles in heels. I love the way she captures time and the way she puts time into things so that’s giving me life.
What’s the first thing you wanna do when we press the play button and resume our lives?
K: I wanna take my queen and my family out to a really great dinner to celebrate family and life. That’s what I wanna do: eat, drink and enjoy a nice ambiance and just enjoy being out. I wanna know I was out, know I ate good and know I can do it again. I’m definitely looking forward to that. Not sure how that’s gonna look but I’m gonna be mad if I gotta wear a got damn mask and gloves.
BWBK: I got a first first thing then I got a first thing. The first first thing I’m gonna do is check if the first niggas who go out, make it. If y’all go out and come back non-Corona’d then I might start my real checklist…. I think that’s an overall misconception. People think that the floodgates are gonna open up and people are just gonna jump outside. I’m waiting to see if that second wave [of the virus] is coming before I go out.
Like you, I wanna have a nice steak dinner or brunch and just enjoy outside and get some air without having to run back in the house. I just don’t want the highlight of my day to be ShopRite anymore.
K: ShopRite and Home Depot have been my hangouts [both laughing].
BWBK: I wanted to get an idea of what you think the world is gonna look like in the next days, weeks, months, years “post-COVID”?
K: I see my future looking bright actually. I’m a fighter- I got my fatigues and boots ready to be in the trenches. I’m not gonna let this Debby Downer keep me from striving and getting to the bag. I’m looking forward to creating two new streams of revenue. I definitely will put a better rainy day package together. I see the future bright cause it can’t be no darker than it is right now.
BWBK: So it’s funny cause you did a real man thing where you went really individualistic- “I see my future as really bright” and “My shit about to be tight.” I’m gonna give the feminine energy response. I think if we play this right, if we think about what got us here and examine the structures that are not allowing us to handle this pandemic well, we can come out on the other side.
Going back to social media, for every fucked up thing you see, there is a really humane, beautiful thing that you see. Teachers are driving past their students’ houses, holding up signs telling them that they miss them; grandparents and grandkids are [physical] distancing but dancing together and finding any way that they can to connect. We’re gonna need that cause when this is all over our [collective] mental health is gonna be shit and we’re gonna need a lot of support. At this point, I can say everyone knows someone who has either been affected by COVID or they have been directly impacted.
I hope that we see the lessons from this.
What are you most proud of as far as how you’ve coped [as we continue with this pandemic]?
K: I’m just proud that I haven’t lost my mind. I was really in my feelings that Friday that they stopped school. As an entrepreneur, when you take away our work/livelihood, it’s like “What am I gonna do?” I’m just proud I haven’t slit my throat or my wrist or taken my feelings out on someone else. It’s really easy to bust somebody upside the head when you feeling some type of way. I’ve been poised and I feel like I can keep it that way.
BWBK: I would echo that. The amount of calm that I’ve had has been surprising to me- just not being so panicked; not allowing the negativity to penetrate. If you’re just looking at 24 hour COVID coverage, you’re gonna be nuts. Of course, I’m skeptical about certain initiatives being put forth by politicians but I was skeptical of them before the pandemic.
I also don’t try to freak no one else out. When I speak to my coworkers and my siblings, I always remind them that you’re still working, you’re still healthy; homeschooling is fucking stressful but you may never get this time with your kids this way again. My perspective is really positive. I’m aware of the seriousness; I’m not in denial but I’m in control of my response.
So we’ve been sitting around watching Netflix. A recent meme said, “I finished Netflix today.” We just watching whatever the fuck is available. What are some books, music, movies, shows that you’ve gotten into over the last six weeks?
K: I took some suggestions from friends and started The Blacklist. Raymond Reddington is that dude. I’ve been enjoying that. I completed the RBCs which provides information on Real estate, Business and Credit information. That was pretty dope. I’ve been re-reading my favorite book, Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun? by Reginald Lewis. We been enjoying some D-Nice and the Versus; your boy Teddy [Riley] need to cut it the fuck out. But shout out to him and Babyface! It’s really been a treat sitting here with the family and having those people doing those things to keep our mind off the pandemic.
BWBK: So I have not gotten into The Blacklist. Definitely Ozark. We binge-watched that and I appreciated it. Ruth is that bitch for those of you who watch, you know what I’m talking about. We just started getting into Cooked with Cannabis. We watched a couple of episodes. I am not a smoker but I like different cuisines. I’m clearly watching for the food and you’re clearly watching for the bud.
One album I really been into is Thundercat’s new album- shout out to Cynthia for recommending it. It’s really mellow and it’s a bit of jazz, R&B, funk and I enjoy it. I listen to it in the morning when I journal. It’s a vibe.
As far as books are concerned, the one that’s reflective of this moment is Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. She was a seer and ahead of her time cause she wrote the book in 1993. In this dystopian society, people can’t get healthcare. Water is more expensive than clothes. People are just burning everything down; all of the cities have been privatized so all of these corporations are just coming in and forcing people to work for extremely low wages and if we don’t get it together, that could be our reality. So that’s a book recommendation I have because of the trying times we’re in right now.
BWBK: So we’re gonna talk about relationships. Keith and I have different interests. He’s an entrepreneur; I’m an educator but we still come together. I wanna talk about relationships because people are expecting the divorce rates to increase and we’re gonna see people breaking up. Why do you think that is and how do you think this is affecting our relationship?
K: Well, relationships were already going to shit. Corona just provided the heating agent to really burn it down. People were able to deal with each other in passing but now people are literally around each other 24/7. When you talk about getting married, none of us thought marriage was gonna look like this for 6 weeks [and beyond]. None of us have been on vacation with our significant other this long so I can see how this can be a strain on somebody’s relationship.
It’s been good for us. We’ve been able to catch up and just spend more time with each other and kick back and enjoy each other. So it’s been a blessing for us but I imagine if the divorce rate was 50%, it’s 80% now. That’s sad because what that means is that people couldn’t stand who they were with, especially under a 24 hour lockdown.
I think it has helped strengthen our bond and relationship. We’re in tune with each other so that helps.
BWBK: I will say this, I am pleasantly surprised, i.e. shocked as fuck that we have remained as compatible as we have. I think it really is about, “you get your space [and I have mine] but [we] know when to come together.” I know even though I deal with your neglect because of [the show] The Blacklist, I let you have it because it allows you to wind down. We’re still strategizing [independently]; we still got our own lanes. I actually don’t have any complaints.
But I wanna touch on this: What has the pandemic taught you? When the pandemic first happened and we found out your business was going in a different direction, we talked about finances and things like that. So what has this taught you?
K: That there are rainy days and you need to be sufficiently prepared, adequately prepared. Damnit, I feel like I need to take a year off from everything- spending… just hoard money. I told my dear future wife that that was the first thing I was gonna do is have a pandemic-proof plan. I will be better insulated going forward and better prepared and better strategized.
BWBK: We had very different revelations. I’m taking a Science of Well Being course right now and no shade to those who are latching on to their faith right now, but when tough times happen that’s when people start thinking about being healthier in different ways. People tend to be very reactive. One of the things that I have appreciated is that this wasn’t a hard thing to do (transitioning and adjusting to quarantine.) Meditating, sleeping, exercising, journaling, being kind to people- I was doing all of these things before- but I feel like people want to start thinking about these types of things after something bad happens [or forces them to think about it].
What are some words of hope that you have for people?
K: We are human beings that get through things. We get through stuff and this will just have to be added to the long list of things that we get through. We’re gonna have to get through this and do it for our kids and do it for ourselves. Keep your heads up high. Take care of yourself, your health. Keep that positive mind and as Jesse Jackson said, “Keep hope alive.”
BWBK: First of all, stay your ass home. I know that’s not hopeful but I [wanna] know that I have done all I can do to ensure that shit is not spreading. You keep hope alive by keeping yourself alive. Enjoy yourself and find joy. I always say, you get what you looking for. If you’re trying to find reasons to be happy, you will be happy. You gotta look for those opportunities [of happiness] and acknowledge them. If at any time you can take fear out of the equation and think with a rational and a human mind then you’re gonna come out on the other side better. And lastly, stop taking all the fucking toilet paper.
Thank you to all the essential workers, health care workers, those working for FedEx, the Post Office, MTA/NJ Transit/public transportation workers, y’all are doing the work.
Drop a comment letting us know how you’re staying sane, how you’re keeping your relationships intact and all of the things that are keeping you hopeful and giving you joy.
Just wanted to sign off with that and stay your ass in the house.
K: Love you.
BWBK: Love you too babe.
Black women be working through the struggle.
Black women be loving through the struggle.
Black women be smiling on the other side of the struggle.
And if you don’t know, now you be knowing.