On being a single dad, a journalist, and a Black south-sider during the pandemic | Opinion | Chicago Reader

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On being a single dad, a journalist, and a Black south-sider during the pandemic

It involves juggling my kid’s Zoom-call cameos and a new beat, and checking in on my homies.

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Evan F. Moore is a culture/entertainment writer with the Chicago Sun-Times. Evan attended Donald Trump’s Chicago rally and lived to tell about it.

My kid is having one hell of a rookie season in terms of her education.

This was supposed to be her first full year of school, but she’s spending the last three months of it at home instead of in class. Three weeks ago, I was at my home office reading over a story when she walked up with tears in her eyes and said, “Daddy, I wanna go to the playground.”

I told her that as soon as the germs are gone, we can go back to the playground. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m running out of excuses. Like the rest of us, she’s trying to make sense of the new reality. 

Also, right before Governor J.B. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place executive order took effect, I took on a new beat at my newspaper. A new sked that allows me to have a social life? Not so fast, my guy. 

For me, and every other career-minded single parent, the new reality is working from home while co-parenting. That means filing stories, transcribing interviews, chasing down leads, sitting in on Zoom meetings, and wondering if I’ll be laid off or furloughed like so many other journalists. 

Along the way, my daughter has joined a couple of conference calls. Once, she crashed the meeting to tell everyone “hi” and to ask for chocolate milk. While transcribing an interview I did with a city official, I heard my kid in the background of the recording, laughing at one of her favorite TV series—most likely Paw Patrol or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

On my lunch break during the weeks I have her, we stay in touch with her teacher through e-learning and Zoom meetings coordinated by the parents of her classmates. And a couple of weeks ago, the teachers and staff at her school staged a drive-by parade for the students, honking their car horns and holding up signs of encouragement while passionately describing to their students how much they miss them. 

“That was fun,” my daughter blurted out. 

She misses her teacher and her classmates; it was a dope moment. 

Maybe some of y’all won’t bitch at teachers now since so many of you are finding out their worth? 

As for the fam, one of the reasons I moved back to the old neighborhood last year, outside of being closer to my daughter, was to be nearby my elderly parents—two retired Chicago Public Schools teachers—in case something comes up and they need me.

My kid knows what she’s getting out of a visit to grandma and grandpa’s: spaghetti and chocolate. After all, grandma and grandpa’s house is a lawless place where parents are powerless when it comes to a grandbaby’s warm embrace. 

Unfortunately, we’ve had to cut our visits short due to social distancing guidelines, my parents’ susceptibility to COVID-19, and the fact that they live blocks away from Symphony South Shore, the nursing home/rehabilitation center where 70 percent of the residents tested positive for COVID-19.

I check on the homies, too. Especially the ones who are dads. I’ve made it a point to reach out to them every now and again to see how they are holding up. Some of them haven’t seen their children outside of phone calls and FaceTime. Also, a few of them are gig workers, which means their ways to earn have been yanked away by the pandemic. 

A couple of weeks ago, I had a 30-minute conversation with one of my friends, and we asked each other about how our families were holding up, we talked about the first two episodes of The Last Dance, the ESPN documentary on the Bulls’ 1998 championship season, and he asked for something a true friend wouldn’t say no to—my Netflix login (I hooked him up). 

It was an important check-in because men—particularly Black men—have a tendency to internalize our feelings and our mental health; we think the world is against us and we don’t reach out. Recent events, and history, back up our suspicions. 

It’s a tough sell when elected officials and the press—entities that have had a historically prickly relationship with our community—tell us to stay in the house due to a pandemic while gun violence, racism, and systemic issues feel much more imminent, as the TRiiBE pointed out in their article describing the disconnect with the aforementioned groups.

And no one is immune. State representative Kam Buckner tweeted about his experience shopping while Black when a police officer stopped him. The police officer told him: “People are using the coronavirus to do bad things. I couldn't see your face, man. You looked like you were up to something."

These are some of the reasons so many of us laugh at white people who want to reopen the state. Seems like it’s not so fun living under what Black folks deal with each and every day. 

Nevertheless, it’s onward and upward for me and mine. My kid is tough, and we’ll adjust to whatever comes our way. 

One day, it’ll all make sense and we’ll head back to the playground—hopefully.  v


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