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People will treat you how they’ll treat you.

Day five

at the McDonald’s drive-thru.

I have my mask on.


6 0 0 y e a r s

with a mask on.

I thank God.

I order the same thing:

a small iced coffee

with two creams.

$1.14 is the total.

I don’t politick

about the price hike.

Capitalism is squeezing my wallet,

but not my insides.

I can


I thank God.

Happy meals

are nice,

but happy people

are everywhere...

Aren’t they?

I drive up.

The worker winks,

a young black woman.

She’s here again.

Maternal, nimble.

S h e e x t e n d s h e r h a n d.

I want to hold it.

“You’re always so

nice, so friendly.”

I grab my drink.

“People will treat you

how they’ll treat you,

whether you’re nice

or not,” she answers.

“See, God is the only one

I answer to.”

I go back the next day.

I tip her

with smiles

and waves.

Because she tipped me.

S h e s m i l e s a n d w a v e s.

I smile, but I am angry—

not at her, the world.

I can stand

whether I’ve been

treated poorly or not.

I am seen

whether I wear a mask

or not.

George Floyd

cannot stand.

Trayvon Martin

cannot be seen.

We must stand for them.

We must make them seen.

We must give the system

a taste of their hell.

Then we can

S m i l e a n d w a v e

and have it mean something

to everyone, not the few.

Then we can

S m i l e a n d w a v e

Not in fear

that our Black friends

will be maimed and slain

by trigger-happy police.

Not in fear

that our BIPOC families

will be harassed

while walking down the street.

Not in fear

that Black women

will be assaulted

while doing their jobs.

One day we will

S m i l e a n d w a v e

without our masks on.

About the Author


Jessica Helen Brant

Buffalo, NY

Jessica Helen Brant is a music marketer and writer from Buffalo, NY. She is Editor-in-Chief of the arts-based publication Eloquent Magazine.