Black Girl Approved: What Got Me Through 2020
For Carmen Jones, experiential director, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” was a constant salve.

Often, during the last 300-odd days, I have thought about Beyoncé’s lyric in “Feelin Myself” when she said, “I stop the world, world, stop… carry on.” When the spread of COVID-19 brought every thing to a screeching halt last spring (and I finally watched Contagion), I didn’t see how we could carry on.

But then one night of endless phone scrolling, I answered a text from my coworker that said “Go to D-Nice’s page right now: He’s giving me life!” D-Nice was in his living room, playing hip hop classics and R&B deep cuts, and creating an experience that would become Club Quarantine. Thinking back on that March night, and several after, it wasn’t the fact that Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and J.Lo were all in the Club and reacting in real time when D-Nice played their respective songs. It was the fact that music was connecting us: mind, body and soul. In that moment, my world carried on.

This year has been a lot of things (hellish quickly comes to mind, anyone else?). But for every heartbreak, there’s been some happiness as we embraced the little things that brought us joy. At ESSENCE, I asked my colleagues what was the thing that got them through 2020, in hopes that sharing their self-care hacks might inspire others to find some light that they can carry into next year.

Kirsten West Savali, Executive Producer

What got me through 2020…Whew, did I really make it through or is this my avatar speaking? Because 2020 has been a dystopian nightmare on so many levels. CBD bath bombs have provided some relief and Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall films certainly don’t hurt. “You are my inspiration…” If you know, you know! I’ve also been listening to “Stay In My Corner” by the Dells on repeat—just like my daddy used to do—and a whole lot of Donny Hathaway.

Sheila Harris, Senior Manager, PR & Strategic Communications

It’s prayer for me. I truly don’t know how I would have survived all that took place this year without the constant reminder that the Lord is always in control. I will continue to trust Him with it all.

Carmen Jones, Experiential Director

Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds”—In a year of unrelenting trials and tribulations, this song calms my mind and reminds me that this too shall pass“Don’t worry, about a thing ‘Cause every little thing, gonna be all right”

Charli Penn, Lifestyle Director

My closest girlfriends became my sisters for life in 2020 and their love and support sustained me. When I shared with them how rough it was for me to just be sitting at home worrying about everything and everyone while trying to focus on work, one of them recommended I try to get into gardening and plant parenthood. It was a brilliant idea.

We’d just bought a home, so I DIYed our entire landscaping in the spring/summer from the flower beds to planting an actual tree, I named Nippy. Then, in the fall, I needed to bring the peace inside so bought my first houseplants. I found calm (and social distancing) in those quiet moments in my garden. I never saw myself as a person with a green thumb, but I surprised myself and I know Oprah would be proud. The truth is, with so much in the world this year being out of my control, this was something I was able to have more of a hand in and it brought me the joy I needed to push through.

Charli Penn with her plant babies.

Daphne Davalie, Associate Director, Finance

What Got Me Through 2020… my siblings “Nikki” and Emile. They would text and/or FaceTime me throughout the day with funny and uplifting messages. The most memorable night is when we all got on FaceTime to watch the Patti vs. Gladys Verzuz. We all sang along to the songs! They’re my A1s since day one! Both have been incredibly supportive confidants who are always there for me when I need them.

Daphanie Davalie and her siblings

Charisma Deberry, Contributing Social Media Editor

Streaming 90’s Black shows: Moesha, Living Single, Family Matters especially remind me of simpler time. Watching the old episodes allowed me to escape into a world where I knew everybody and what to expect, a welcomed break from the uncertainty of 2020. 

The cast of Moesha

Brooklyn White, Generation Z Editor, Girls United

The album, 7 Tibetan Singing Bowls Chakras. I played this while completing various tasks at home this year. It helped me feel more centered throughout the day. I’m seven months pregnant and I need all of the relaxing vibes I can get.

Imani Nuñez, Digital Graphic + Motion Designer

My family is my anchor and they are my sails. The unsteadiness of 2020 started early and had grown in momentum, as many people had experienced. I quickly embraced my family and my habitual “Family First” reaction kicked in. What I did not realize was how 2020 would both test and deepen my relationship with my loved ones, especially my Mom, my Dad and my brother Chris.

During this time we took turns easing fears, we shared in rage, kept each other focused on solutions, and remained to have love and laugher present. Though this year had its challenges and we faced many evils, I have a gained a greater peace knowing that I have my loved ones around me.

Imani Nuñez (second from the right) and her family

Rosemarie Robotham, Contributing Editor

I remember feeling a shock of recognition when I ran across this quote from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo: “For those of us who have suffered, who hauled ourselves into the sun, anything exhausted beside us is family.” I’m exhausted y’all. It’s been a year. But I have been among family. 

Chauncie Burton, Contributing Marketing Manager

My baby girl, Karsyn JoLeigh—my whole heartbeat. There’s no one in this world that I’d rather be quarantined with. It’s been an honor and a wild ride getting to know her, getting to know me as a mom and raising her in the midst of the madness. She gave me a new focus and a new purpose. She grounded me and supported me more than she’ll ever know. 

Jasmine Grant, Associate Editor

P-Valley: This series debut saved me from my quarantine blues. The genius creation by playwright Katori Hall goes inside a Mississippi strip club where a whirlwind of drama awaits. I found this show to be a refreshing departure from what’s already on TV, and I can’t wait until its return.

Brandee Evans as Mercedes in P-Valley

Cori Murray, Interim Deputy Editor

Brown Estate Wines: In February, my 10-year-old daughter and I visited my dear cousin in Northern California for spring break. My cousin, who I affectionately call “Babyronda,” told me for years that Napa Valley was in her backyard. She wasn’t lying. Within 20 mins of leaving her house, we were in downtown Napa for a quick stop at Brown Estates Tasting Room venue—one of the few Black owned vineyards. Recalling that trip, where my little one and I took daily BART rides into San Francisco and did self-guided tours of Chinatown (on the hunt for Pusheen), Lombard Street and Fisherman’s Wharf. At night, back in the suburbs with my cousin, I drank cabs, blancs and roses from her “backyard.” So when the days of 2020 went too dark, I’d open a bottle of Brown’s Chaos Theory or Zinfandel, and sweet memories of that trip would chase away my pandemic blues because one day soon I’d be back in Napa.

Now you tell us, what got you through 2020?