Boy. It's only March and 2020 has already been on one. Big time. If it's not the chlamydia that's in the Artic Ocean (yep, you read that right) or the fact that there are monkeys with herpes in Florida who are running rampant (is it just me or is Florida always good for a crazy story?), it's kids on TikTok treating empty toilet paper rolls like they're straws (eww). But man, if there's one thing that definitely tops everything I've seen thus far, it's got to be, what is now a pandemic across the globe. You know what I'm referring to. The coronavirus. And contrary to what some people are saying on Black Twitter, "No, Black People Aren't Immune to Covid-19".
There is simply no way around it. If we're not hearing about it in the media, we're noticing it when we get in our cars and realize that there is significantly less traffic on the roads. Or, we're going into grocery stores, only to realize that there is absolutely no toilet paper in sight. Then there are those of us who are trying to figure out how to juggle our jobs with the fact that our kids are out of school (check out "As Schools Close Because Of Coronavirus, Nearly 300 Million Kids Aren't In Class"). Or, it's the fact that more and more of us are unable to visit our elderly loved ones in nursing homes, we're spending hours in airports trying to figure out if—or how—we should catch a flight or, we're wondering when we'll see the people in our lives who are in the military again (due to the travel ban that has been placed on them).
And y'all, if you're looking to our fearless leader (I hope you can just hear the sarcasm that's just oozing from my keyboard to your monitor) for accurate information or even comfort, well, I'll just refer you to Trevor Noah's "Trump's Coronavirus Address, Blooper Reel Included". Make sure to wait for the bloopers. Trump never ceases to amaze, man (you might also want to check out "The sick joke of Donald Trump's presidency isn't funny any more").
I won't lie. Even with the coronavirus relief bill that was recently passed, the projections of what this pandemic has the capability to do is pretty mind-blowing. As of March 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 214 million Americans could be infected. That's nothing to Kanye shrug about. But with all of the information—and misinformation—that is out here, I thought it would be important to share some actual facts. Because, as we all know, "knowledge is power". Plus, the more truth you have about this virus, hopefully, the more inner peace you can gain about how to approach it in your own life.
As a heads up, this ain't a short read. That's because, I tried to be as thorough as possible. But I'm hoping that these 12 points will provide you with what you need to come to a place of knowing that, yes, we are in some trying times. Still, it shouldn't paralyze you with fear. With a little pre-planning and intentional precautions, we can get through this. As Black people, we've certainly been through worse, right? I'm sayin'.
1. What Exactly IS the Coronavirus?
So, just what is the coronavirus (COVID-19)? It's kind of a long and sordid tale, but probably the best way to sum it up is, it's a virus that comes from a family of other viruses that has the ability to infect both humans as well as animals. Someone was diagnosed with it in December 2019 (more on that in a sec), and it's related to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). It's highly-transmittable and while—please make sure you catch this part—many people who get it end up with a mild case, the huge cause for alarm is, sometimes it can lead to pneumonia, fluid build-up in the lungs or kidney failure (check out "Here's what coronavirus does to the body"). To date, the virus is less deadly than SARS and two percent of the reported cases of the coronavirus have been deadly.
Just where did it originate? I want to be careful about taking us all down that rabbit hole because new information is constantly coming out. What I will say is if you heard that it came from a Chinese person consuming bat soup, while scientific reports can confirm that there is definitely a coronavirus strain that comes from bats, what actually has baffled researchers is, there appears to be a different animal who served as the "intermediate host" between bats and humans in this case. What is factual is it originated in Wuhan, the capital of China's Hubei province, presumably from an animal at a seafood market. Yes, it did come from China. However, let's use common sense. Chinese food is not going to give you the virus (any differently than taking the risk of eating out anywhere would) and—please stop—Corona beer definitely won't (goodness).
You can check out "What You Need to Know About Coronavirus" and "What Is Coronavirus?" for more detailed information (and additional fact-checking).
2. Who Is the Most Vulnerable?
As far as who is most vulnerable, according to the CDC, it's older adults (in China, 12 percent of the cases involved people who are over 70) and individuals who have medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes. And what if you happen to have asthma? According to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, because it is a condition that affects the respiratory system, you should be extra cautious too. Some studies state that men are at a higher risk than women as well. So are individuals who are taking care of anyone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Currently, children are at a lower risk than adults.
3. How Can You Get Infected?
How can you get coronavirus? From what I read, it is spreading due to droplets that come from people's noses and mouths. One science article stated that, standing less than six feet from an infected individual, for more than 15 minutes, can put you at high risk for contracting it.
For now, the incubation period appears to be 14 days from the day you are exposed, you would need a laboratory test to confirm that it is indeed the coronavirus and, as far as treatment? Yeah, that's another area where I want to be careful. From what I've researched, because the virus is viral and not bacterial, it doesn't respond to antibiotics. While scientists and medical professionals are trying to find a cure (and a vaccine), what is recommended in the meantime is to 1) self-quarantine (or your doctor may admit you into the hospital if it's a severe case); 2) to drink plenty of fluids in order to remain hydrated; 3) to keep the fever down and 4) if it's severe, supplemental oxygen may be needed.
It is important to keep in mind that, at least for now, 80 percent of individuals who get the virus are able to recover without the need for hospitalization or even extra-special treatment (reportedly, 70,000 have recovered in the United States as of March 12). The reason why self-quarantining is such an imperative thing to do, even if you have a mild case, is the person you could infect may have a compromised system. The less the virus spreads, the safer those around us can be. That's why more and more companies are requiring that their employees work from home right now. Makes sense, right?
4. What Symptoms Should You Look Out For?
OK. Let's talk about symptoms for a minute. When I read about a woman who freaked out to the point of being kicked off of a Jetstar flight, all because a man was coughing on it (we normally cough, anywhere between 1-34 times a day), I was like, yeah, I definitely need to throw the symptoms of the virus into this. So, here's the deal. If you want to see for yourself what makes the coronavirus stand out from the common cold, the flu or even allergies (since we are heading into allergy season), a chart that I checked out stated the following.
- Fever: Common
- Dry Cough: Common
- Shortness of Breath: Common
- Headaches: Sometimes
- Aches and Pains: Sometimes
- Sore Throat: Sometimes
- Fatigue: Sometimes
- Diarrhea: Rare
- Runny Nose: Rare
- Sneezing: No
Now, information about the virus is ever-evolving. Another article that I read is discovering that some people who have coronavirus are even asymptomatic. But what I am confident in recommending is, if you happen to have several of these symptoms (not just a cough, unless it isn't going away after a couple of days), you should make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible.
5. Good Hygiene Should Be a Given Regardless
Everything in life has silver linings; it's all about whether or not we choose to see them. When it comes to the coronavirus, two linings that come to my mind is, during the (potential) quarantine season, it could create more quality time for families and two, it should also remind us to use common sense when it comes to hygiene.
For instance, although I'm not sure I get the logic behind why The Real's Adrienne Bailon thinks that there's no real need to wash your hands after using the bathroom, so long as you're at your own house (bacteria is bacteria, y'all), believe it or not, she's not an exception in this case. A couple of years ago,The Root published an article, citing the fact that only 31 percent of men and 65 percent of women wash their hands after going to the restroom (what in the world?!). Y'all, all kinds of germs and bacteria is not just coming from bodily waste but countertops, doorknobs and cellphones—all of which are in our house. Outdoors, there are things like steering wheels, shopping carts, gas handles, ATMs…need a sistah go on? So yes, wash your freakin' hands, please. Use warm or hot water. Definitely use soap. And, make sure that you lather up and wash for no less than 30 seconds and then rinse thoroughly. Wash them after using the bathroom, after you come in from outside, and after you cough or sneeze too.
As far as other precautions that you need to take, it's not too much different than what you (hopefully) learned in early elementary school. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Avoid touching surfaces, as much as possible, in public places. Also, keep your hands off of your face, your fingers out of your mouth, and keep your house clean and disinfected (this includes tables, light switches and desks, not just toilets, sinks and faucets).
Now the "extras" that you should factor in, just to be extra safe, include avoiding crowded spots and staying six feet away from people as much as possible; doing a fist-pound instead of a handshake, even with people you know; avoid touching surfaces, as much as possible, when you are in public (try opening doors with the sleeve of your shirt instead of your hands), and nixing the whole in-store product testing approach. At least for now (Sephora and Ulta Beauty won't let you anyway; again, at least for now).
If you happen to be like a friend of mine's husband and you feel like you can't give up the gym, no matter what, take a second to check out "Coronavirus and the gym: Be 'super careful' at public facilities, doctor suggests". Speaking of men, fellas, you can keep your facial hair (praise the Lord). It was a rumor that you needed to cut it off, but you don't.
And what about your pet? Rest easy about them. Reportedly, "The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads from humans to humans. There is no research to support human to animal spread at this time." Yeah, I caught the "at this time" part too, but until we know something different, don't stress about Spot, Fluffy or whatever your dog or cat's name is. Treat them as you normally would—unless you kiss yours in the mouth or let them sleep on your pillow. Then…don't.
Oh, and what about the whole mask-wearing thing? According to the World Health Organization, you only need to put a mask on if you are actually ill and disposable face masks should only be used once. Otherwise, you can chill on that.
6. Use Soap More than Sanitizer
While I'm still trying to figure out what the obsession with toilet paper is right now, I totally get why hand sanitizer is flying off of the shelves. If you can't seem to find any at your local store, I wouldn't trip, if I were you. There are a substantial amount of sources out here that say a good old-fashioned bar of soap is more effective anyway. One article said that it's because soap has the ability to loosen bacteria and viruses from the skin (it also said that, when you're in public, it's best to go with liquid instead of bar soap). Another article that I checked out stated soap is one of the most effective ways to get rid of the virus because it removes the fatty layer that coats the virus. The New York Times also recently published an article entitled, "Why Soap Works". So, instead of thinking that you've got to take the risk of standing in line at a local drugstore for some sanitizer or that you should figure out what DIY recipe actually works, pick up some soap instead. It's totally got your back. Again, there's plenty of data to prove it.
7. Pay Attention to What’s Happening in Your Actual State
If you're feeling overwhelmed, I'd venture to say that, a part of the reason why is because, not only are you watching what's happening on our continent, but what is transpiring all over the world. While it is essential to be aware of what is going down globally, remember that it's essential that you are most knowledgeable about what is happening in your actual state (or where you are traveling to). For instance, in Ohio, health officials believe that 100,000 people are already infected while (at the least at the time of me writing this) West Virginia is the only state to not have a coronavirus patient yet. It's also important to know how your local officials are handling the situation. While I'm here, shout-out to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance, who may have read articles like, "Coronavirus to impact low-wage, black workers the most" and already decided to halt water disconnections for the next 60 days.
You can go to your favorite search engine and seek out US maps that track how many people are infected based on where you live, or you can go to a search engine and put "coronavirus" along with your state (or even your city) in order get the updated info. Make sure that you do.
8. Here’s What You Need for a 14-Day Quarantine
I went to the store to stock up for about three weeks a couple of days ago. I'll be honest with you—it wasn't so much due to the virus as the fact that so many people are panic shopping that I wanted to make sure I actually had something to eat in my house (because eating out is gonna be a no-no for me right through here for a little while). But whether you're shopping to stock up "just in case" or because you have been told to self-quarantine (or see the need to self-quarantine because you recently came back from Italy or something), you don't need to go broke by buying up the entire store. Here's basically what you need for about two weeks of staying in your house.
Dried and canned goods. It's pre-packaged (unlike fresh produce). Plus, I wouldn't 100 percent rely on electricity, if I were you. If the entire country goes on a lockdown, well, that's people who work at the electric company too and you just never know. Plus, I live in Nashville and was without electricity for a week after the tornadoes that we had a couple of weeks ago. Throwing out a freezer full sucked. Anyway, whatever you decide to get, make sure it's a 14-day amount for each individual who lives in your home.
Frozen foods (and a cooler). Again, the dried foods and canned goods are a precaution (they also last for a long time). Hopefully, your electricity will be just fine, so also get some frozen foods (they last longer than fresh produce) and a cooler, if you don't have one. That way, if your electricity does happen to cut out for a moment or two, you can put the ice in there and store your frozen food a bit longer.
30-day prescription of medications. Even running out "for a hot second" could infect you or someone around you. So, just to be on the safe side, have a month's worth of the medications (and vitamins or supplements) that you already take available.
Over-the-counter meds. If you do happen to have mild symptoms and your doctor encourages you to recover at home, you'll need some ibuprofen to help with body aches and your fever (although some experts are actually recommending paracetamol instead); cough syrup to manage your cough and some cough drops to soothe your sore throat. Stock up on those.
Paper products. Toilet paper, paper towels, you get it.
First-Aid kit. If you've got kids or a man who likes to tinker around the house, a kit is paramount.
Ladies, don't forget about sanitary products. If your period is scheduled to come on during the quarantine, make sure you've got what you need to handle it. Personally, since I've been using a menstrual cup, I've got just one more reason to be in love with it; I only need to use one and I only have to purchase one every 10 years. I'm set.
Water. They are saying that the virus won't affect our water supply. But again, if there is a nationwide lockdown, that somehow happens to affect the employees at the water company and how we get our water (you never know), having a 14-day supply of bottled water, per person in your household, is a good look too.
I could go on, but USA Today published a pretty comprehensive list. You can check it out here.
9. Yes, You Need to Budget
The shoes can wait. So, can buying up 10 plane tickets or purchasing whatever else is on your current high-end shopping list. The main reason why I say that is, in the midst of the pandemic, please don't miss some of the shadiness that is going on. Things like "Court cites coronavirus in blocking Trump administration's food stamp cuts" (yep, this administration is actually trying to cut people's food stamps during a pandemic. Wow.) and "For the Love of God, Why Is the Trump Administration Blocking Medicaid Access to Fight Coronavirus?". Moral to the story? Don't assume that the government is automatically gonna have your back right through here. If there was ever a time to create a budget (and stick to it), save and be frugal, it would be now.
Case in point. I have a girlfriend who is a speech pathologist in Maryland. Maryland and Ohio were the first two states to shut down all K-12 schools due to the coronavirus. She's married with four kids. When I asked her what all of this meant, she said that she would be paid for the next two weeks, then there's spring break and then…we'll see. You can't pay a mortgage on "we'll see". Spend and save wisely, y'all.
10. What About Air Travel?
As far as travelling, about half of the people in my intimate circle have been on a plane, at least once, since the news of the coronavirus broke out. They are still healthy and pretty "Omarion" (you know, unbothered) about it all. Good for them. Still, for as long as the government allows us to fly (check out "Are restrictions on travel within the United States coming soon?"), it's still important to take precautions. That's why you should have some sanitizing hand wipes in tow and you should also wipe down any surface that you plan on touching on the plane; to drink as much water as possible (it will flush out your system, keep your immunity in good shape, and help to prevent headaches, body aches and fatigue); and, that you have some Vitamin C on hand. It is a holistic way to fight off airborne germs. I'm hoping it's a given that you would cover your mouth and turn your head away from others if you cough or sneeze (you might want to do it into your sleeve rather than your hand, just to be extra safe).
When it comes to some avoid-getting-sick-while-flying hacks, NPR did a good feature last month. It included booking a window seat as much as possible, and also keeping in mind that the office where you work is probably nastier than any plane you've flown on, so stay calm. Peep this—"In the course of her research, Hertzberg's team took more than 200 environmental swabs on 10 transcontinental U.S. flights and didn't find a single respiratory virus in the sample (though there was plenty of bacteria)." Again, knowledge is power.
11. Make Sure to Keep Your Immune System Strong
The stronger your immune system is, the more equipped you'll be able to fight coronavirus if you do happen to get it. Stay hydrated. Eat healthy (especially consume lots of antioxidants like spinach, citrus fruits, beans, eggplants and dark chocolate). Get plenty of rest. Exercise (even if it's just in your house). Take a multi-vitamin. Open up your windows (indoor air pollution is 2-5 times higher than outdoor air pollution). Get some comfort foods for your quarantine but don't overdo it on the junk. Make green tea your friend. Have sex with your partner (sperm is like a mega-multi vitamin and a woman's vaginal fluids are the ultimate probiotic). In short, be as proactive as possible about your health. It's an extremely worthwhile investment.
12. Fear Helps Absolutely Nothing
Being concerned is one thing. Being paralyzed with fear is something else. The first is productive. The second? It really does nothing but make matters worse. That's why it's so important to embrace every moment, to remain as tranquil as possible, to operate from a place of wisdom, knowledge and discernment, and to choose to not fear. Because, as my Bible following family knows, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7—NKJV); love and a sound mind—for real, for real—are what's gonna get us through this.
If you need a little more encouragement, Hot New Hip Hop recently posted an Instagram message from hip-hop artist Lecrae that I thought would be a fitting way to close this out. Here's some of what he said.
"I stayed up late doing as much research as I possibly could. I was on the phone earlier today talking on the phone with someone who is very close to a biotech scientist who spent their 50-year career working with viruses such as corona and actually on coronavirus. COVID-19 is a new strand of coronavirus, so corona has been here for a while. This is a new strand." (He's right; reportedly, the first strain was described in the 1960s.)
"God is in control. We live in a world that is broken. There have been pandemics, there have been wars, there have been bombs, there have been plagues since humanity's been here. It is not an excuse for us to act inhumane and for us to act as if God is not in control and as if he's not a God we can trust. He's brought people through it. Not without pain and not without suffering, not without loss. This shows me where my true rewards are, where my hope really is, where my faith really is."
Yes, sir. If I were around you, I would give you a fist-pound for sharing this. Come to think about it, hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco also had a word in due season:
"As this thing grows and gets a little more out of hand, remember that corona is what you make it. If you make it a crazy, panic-driven, fear-filled thing, then that is what it will be. This disease isn't just the disease itself; it's also the reaction to the disease, and in some cases, for most of us, what we will be experiencing is the reaction to the disease."
The coronavirus isn't something I'm thrilled about, but with the info that I have, it's not something I'm terrified of either. Stay aware. Stay focused. Stay calm. Like all crisis, sis, this too shall pass.
Now get off of here and go to the store before all of the toilet paper runs out. #justsayin'
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Here's How To Stop Worrying So Freakin' Much
10 All-Natural Ways To Avoid Catching A Cold
Stressed Out? Here Are 10 Steps Towards Immediate Calm & Tranquility
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Why Friend Envy Doesn't Have To Be The Downfall Of Your Friendships
I'll never forget the day a good friend of mine I met at work finally got her acceptance letter from medical school. I was one of her biggest cheerleaders along the way, her “Oprah,” as she called me endearingly, her supportive cast, the person that nurtured her through her anxiety of facing the unknown of leveling up. In turn, she helped me, the sheepish girl in the cubicle next to her wearing all black and covered in cat hair, to embrace my inner badass along the way.
She exposed me to a new way of life, actually going into the world doing things that I wanted to do, wearing the clothes that I wanted to wear, and simply not giving a damn about how other people felt. I got to see that the present was a gift and I was dope in real life, not just the internet. She coached me from only feeling comfortable posting mirror pics to flexing in full-body pictures embracing every curve on my body, and knowing that I am a baddie. She encouraged me to go for opportunities I thought were way out of my league, like this one right here…being paid to share my thoughts with you.
So, you could imagine my confusion as I jumped and screamed "congratulations" on the other end of the phone upon hearing the news of her acceptance, like she just won a Grammy, and hung up in just about tears asking her, "What does this mean for me?"
At that moment, it just felt like she received her golden ticket out of the position that we hated, and I was just being left behind. The feeling wasn’t jealousy. I couldn't fathom treating her badly because she accomplished her goal, but I felt less than her and stuck in my circumstances.
I was envious.
I wanted that fearlessness that she had, that audacity to have faith in myself, that knowing that there was something bigger and better out there for me, and that drive to not stop until I got it regardless of my present circumstances. I wanted to be the main character in my story too.
But at that moment, as much as I loved, adored, and was inspired by her, I didn't want to be her, I simply wanted to become the kind of person that had the heart to live the life I wanted to live. She was merely just a teacher and a catalyst of change in my life that I will forever be grateful for, and as they say, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."
It was her time to go and my time to put in the work to design my own life, and inspire others through my pursuit, just as she had done for me.
I say this to say, to a certain extent, it is very healthy to have friends that you are envious of, but jealousy is very unhealthy. Simply put:
Jealousy is when you treat someone badly because they have something that you want but feel you cannot obtain. For example, you want their success, to achieve what they have achieved, to have the type of relationships they have and/or a material object that they have, so you put them down to make yourself feel better.
Envy can be geared towards many different factors, tangible or intangible. However, envy can be described as admiring someone else's traits, accomplishments, and possessions externally and internally, letting this shed a light on areas of yourself and your life you are discontent with. It does not have to be mean-hearted or mean-spirited and can be a huge catalyst for positive change in your own life.
It's an opportunity to open up a dialogue with someone else to compliment them and to let them know they inspire you. This, in turn, can easily turn into an exchange of resources, strategies, and admiration because often, the person who is feeling envy has admirable qualities too.
Someone acting negatively on jealousy looks like:
- Copying you without giving you credit. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it gets to the point, someone is emulating your whole vibe and work without recognizing you and treating you less than desirably at the same time.
- Making everything a competition, constantly trying to one-up your thoughts, accomplishments, and skills both in your face and behind your back.
- Talking maliciously behind your back, never bringing up their less-than-favorable feelings to you personally as an opportunity to grow and deepen your bond.
- Not celebrating or praising you. It's very hard for them to applaud you when you have accomplished something big or small in a sincere way.
Acting negatively on envy looks like:
- When you accomplish a goal that they also want to accomplish, they can't show up to support you because this magnifies their feelings of insecurity and inferiority. They won't say anything negative, but it is hard to see past their own perceived failure when they are winning at that moment.
- They give you way too much too soon. Instead of letting a friendship evolve naturally over time, they want to grow extremely close. Their compliments are nonstop, with more of an undertone of superficiality instead of sincere observation.
- They make it seem like everything comes to you easily because they idealize you or your gifts while thinking their abilities are inferior. This one is tricky. Think of the word "pretty privilege" and the thought that someone obtains desirable things because of the way they look. This doesn't take into account how much time, effort, and energy goes into their looks and the idea they bring more to the table than looks.
- They can't stop putting themselves down when you try to uplift them. This one is very hard to spot because it comes off as complete self-depreciation at first. For example, you congratulate them on accomplishing a goal, and they point out how it's not equal to what you accomplished.
Feeling jealousy and envy is a normal part of life, but with maturity, we learn it's not wise to act on it or let those feelings fester. I realized a long time ago it's just right to mistreat someone else because I don't feel good about myself. Had I met my friend during my mean girl insecure era in high school, I would have ruined the whole relationship by highlighting our differences, covering them up as some type of relationship incompatibility, and looking down on her because she approached life differently than I had.
Through meeting women who are doing things that you consider to be extraordinary and befriending them in an organic and sincere way through gratitude and reciprocity, you both expose each other to ways to further develop and improve in your self-development. As the Bible says:
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17.
When operating in lower energy, it's easy to belittle and treat a person who has traits or possessions that you desire deep down inside but are too afraid or ashamed to admit. However, showing up as your highest self with enough vulnerability to say, "Girl, I love the way you are doing your thing," opens up a whole new world of potential and resources because nine times out of 10, that woman doesn't mind sharing a few tips and pointing you in the right direction.
I've learned that when those feelings of envy come up, I don't have to feel insecure…I just have to get really curious.
I'm secure in myself to know I can accomplish anything I put my mind and energy into, but I'm wise enough to know I do not always know how to go about it. This is where acting positively on feeling envious of someone else has improved my life drastically because I realized the only difference between envy and inspiration is the belief that someone has something that I do not, and I create the life I desire too. I've realized that is dead wrong, and most likely, the person I envy initially has very similar feelings of insecurity as me but did not let that feeling turn into a belief that stopped them from executing.
In essence, they don't let their insecurities stop them from going after what they want.
In turn, I have become the type of person I used to envy. I take action aligned action toward my goals, no matter how it looks to others, and I make my happiness my responsibility. I am no longer afraid to leverage my network to get to where I want to go faster. I left my hometown and am the first person in my household to live independently out of the state. I wear clothes that I feel beautiful and sexy in, I travel often, and I demand more out of life and myself.
This is all because my friend modeled this to me, and I started to believe I could actually achieve these things.
Friendships have so many ebbs and flow that you find yourself mentoring one season and being a mentee the next. The key is being able to sit in and on that discomfort of watching someone's harvest while you are still in your planting season with the faith that you will blossom and the knowledge that celebrating her wins brings more fertilization to your seeds.
The unshakeable belief in abundance is the key to making envy a constructive emotion.
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Featured image by Vladimir Vladimirov/Getty Images