How I won in 2020

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Morine and I at the Grand Canyon as we neared the end of our cross-country adventure in the midst of a pandemic. (Photo: Morine Lewis)

By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
syoes@afro.com

On Dec. 30, with less than 48 hours left in perhaps the most catastrophic year in America in more than a century all I can do is give thanks. But, it most assuredly didn’t have to be this way.

By January 1, approximately 350,000 Americans will have perished from the coronavirus pandemic and more than 20 million will have been infected with the disease. Millions of Americans will have lost jobs and nearly five million will be evicted from their homes. Our country is in the midst of its most perilous racial reckoning since the Red Summer of 1919. And more than 74 million Americans voted for the most destructive singular force to American democracy ever to occupy the White House.

But, God.

The reality is as the scourge of COVID-19 began to ravage the country in March and America went on lockdown, we were all operating within a truly egalitarian society because at that point none of us knew how this thing was going to play out.

As me and my colleagues embarked upon our first Zoom meeting, I could feel the trepidation; there was no guarantee that one of the most important Black publications in American history would continue to operate. That’s just a fact. However, every woman and man in our company is a person of faith, including and perhaps most importantly our leader. This is also a fact. And not only did the AFRO survive 2020, we have thrived. Only God.

Without these foundational facts, my victories in 2020 would have been implausible. Let me tell you about the victories.

First, at age 55, my first child King Ayvin Amara Yoes was born on June 28. To be 100 percent accurate, King Ayvin came two days before my 55th birthday, 12,000 miles away in the East African nation of Uganda. Our journey although seemingly arduous, is miraculous and beautiful. I am confident going forward we will be together in peace, love and balance.

My son, King Ayvin Amara Yoes throwing up the Black Power fist. He was born June 28, two days before my 55th birthday. (Photo: Anitah Kajumba)

However, prior to King Ayvin’s arrival my beloved Morine came into my life. I knew she was God sent because my mother’s middle name is Maureen. And like my departed mother, Morine’s late mother Joanne was also a nurse.

She and I met in early April like a lot of people have connected during this pandemic, through Facebook. And during our early conversations she told me about her dad Micheal Lewis and how he was killed during a hit and run “accident” in the mountains of Pala, California near San Diego in 2015. She revealed she wanted to drive across the country to the sight of his death to bring some peace and release his spirit. Without hesitation I volunteered to drive her there. She accepted. So, I started planning our cross-country odyssey of love and healing.

On Oct. 9, we began our journey that would take us from Baltimore, to Pittsburgh, to Chicago, to Kansas City, Mo., to Denver, to Santa Fe, NM., to the Grand Canyon, to San Diego. And we documented the entire trip through social media. She said it would be a blessing to many people and it has been. And it was a tremendous blessing to us. In the midst of a global pandemic God saw fit to show us favor for 3,000 miles by car with impunity. We are plotting and planning myriad adventures for 2021 and beyond.

2020’s miraculous trifecta was completed on Dec. 21, when I finished a screenplay for a movie about Baltimore, our desperately imperiled, but great American city. It is a story that in many ways is the culmination of more than 30 years of storytelling that began at the AFRO in January of 1989.

I thank God for my job and my mission. Without it, I could not support my son and his mother. Without it, Morine and I couldn’t have facilitated our transcontinental adventure. And without it, I would have never been equipped to tell the transcendent story that is coming forward.

I say all that to say, thank God for 2020, and I’m ready for 2021 to begin.