That Long-Suffering, Self-Righteous, and Completely Lachrymal Struggle of White Guilt on the Make

(atrwork by Sarah Tell)

The screen said: “Your Zoom Work Meeting Has Started.”

Kaitlynn said, “They’re killing black people. It’s making me cry. I can’t handle it. I’m so upset!” as she sipped her elderberry Kettle One cocktail and adjusted her flower-print Marchesa Notte V-Neck Embroidered High-Low Dress with her ass just on the edge of a dusty mint accent armchair. “I’ve just got to…do something.”

All Zoom meeting-goers concurred from their layered array of windows on the laptop’s screen. Michelle was tearing up, and Charmie’s voice was failing her, and there was all-around slight sobbing and wiping of noses. Then Charmie piped up: “These mofos on my Instagram feed. I’m calling anyone out who posts racist shit. I don’t care if I lose followers. I’m putting them on blast!”

In Buffalo a 75-year-old man was pushed to the ground by two heavily armored police officers, where he promptly cracked his head open and started bleeding on the concrete, while not one of the other 57 officers in the “Special Response Squad” offered him any succor. The President claimed that the elderly gentleman was faking the whole thing to undermine the efforts of police, who, according to him were, “99.9% great people.”

Kevin chimed in: “Even the people who are doing the right thing are doing it wrong because they’re not doing it in the right way.” Then he ran his hands through the messy whorls of his bedhead hair and pulled on the neck of his organdy pullover. “The guy was in fucking handcuffs for Christ’s sake. I mean, I’m not religious, but, God, what the fuck?”

From the upright corner of Kevin’s laptop, Michelle bellowed, “I can’t even find peace in a yoga class! It’s all microaggressions from white female instructors. Where are all the brown and black voices in yoga studios? It’s like, such bullshit. It makes me feel so…so…oppressed.”

In Washington D.C. peaceful protesters were sprayed with tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the way for the President to walk to a church, pose awkwardly with a bible, and then have his picture taken.

“No matter what I do, it’s not enough.” Whined Chad. “We’re being tear-gassed with cover ups.”

Michelle shouted, “I want to be an agitator!”

Clark said, “All police forces should be abolished,” as he adjusted his glasses and glared profoundly at the screen. “We’ll just let communities police themselves.” Then he cleared his throat and darted his eyes to somewhere off camera. He was on the verge of tears. “Damn it. It’s these toxic systems of supremacy that really get my blood boiling. But what can I do? I’m just me against all the powers that be. Shit.”

Police unions across the country held their ground, blocking any reform legislation, furious that any police officer could ever be accused of wrongdoing or be held accountable for their actions. Politicians prayed and made speeches. The masses walked the streets and chanted and spray painted “Black Lives Matter” on statues honoring famous Confederates. A Christopher Columbus statue was beheaded in Boston.

“It’s boiling up and over, all of this, all of my emotions,” sighed Charmie. Her two cats pushed their noses against her laptop’s screen and softly meowed. “I’m not really, well…black, per se. But I consider myself to be like…um, 80 percent black.”

From his private library, Joe Biden asked why as sad piano music played in the background. Legislation for police reform stalled in congress.

Greta wasn’t looking at the Zoom squares for a moment. She was texting the word “Love” to all of her black friends. After she hit “send” her spirits lifted and she felt very good about herself, as if she had done something profound and original to help other people. ‘I’m a good person,’ she thought. ‘Everyone else is just faking it.’

Gospel music rang out in lovely ululating waves from George Floyd’s funeral in Houston. Al Sharpton made a speech for the ages, asking people to keep fighting even after the cameras were turned off of them.

Kaitlynn asked the meeting participants, “Should we send flowers?”

“Yes!” Exclaimed Riley. “But…to whom?”

Everyone was quiet for a few seconds. It seemed a lot longer.

Then Greg said, “We just need to send our love, right? Just put it out there?” as he fed his pet parakeet in the background, locked in a cage over his head. “Everyone should feel free. We have a duty and obligation, a responsibility to all of them to change things.”

“Them?” asked Florie. “I’m not sure you should be saying ‘them,’ Greg.”

Greg apologized as everyone shook their head with a bit of shame. “Us…I mean. All of us…Americans. We’re all the same.”

“Defund the Police!” became a rallying cry at major rallies in all fifty states. The president went into a bunker, then said he didn’t, then said he was merely inspecting it. The stock market rallied. Everyone was told to wear a face mask when venturing outside their domicile. Two cats and a German shepherd tested positive for Covid-19 in Brooklyn.

The Zoom squares realigned with a swoosh. All the small faces were met with the scanning looks of other faces. A new face appeared as another went away.

“The news, it just gets me so bummed these days,” mulled Corissa who had just joined the meeting and was licking a watermelon Popsicle. “Everything is just so fucked.” She kicked off one of her Valentino Garavani Rockstud Jelly Flat Gladiator Sandals as she crossed her legs. “Are you guys as pissed off about it all as I am?”

Everyone concurred with her as the boxes across the screen flickered from one person’s voice to the next.

“Yeah,” said Kaitlynn. “I can’t even find fluoride-free toothpaste anymore.” Then she felt ashamed of herself and quickly stated: “And all these people dying at the hands of cops! It’s…it’s horrible!”

Suddenly a bare ass filled all the screens, and then disappeared.

Shock and awe filled the virtual room. Kevin asked, rather sheepishly, “Did we just get Zoom-bombed?”

“Gross!” Shouted Florie.

“Fucking assholes!” Screamed Kevin.

“Selfish. Selfish shit heads,” said Greg as he took off his tortoise-shell-frame bifocals and winced, rubbing his callus-less, well-moisturized palms across his khaki Dockers. “All they care about is disrupting other people’s lives.”

Corissa chimed in, “I know, right?”

“I’d like to give that asshole a piece of my mind,” lamented Chad. “Myopic jerk. We’re fighting for justice here, and he’s just…doing that?”

Charmie began to softly cry as she brushed Mary’s Gone Organic Gluten-free Non-gmo Vegan cracker crumbs off her lap. “I can’t take all this suffering anymore. Everyone is so racist.”

Monuments to slave holders were toppled. “Gone with the Wind” was taken off the air.

Kaitlynn asked, “So, are we going to talk about work?”

Charmie left the meeting.

Kevin left the meeting.

Greta left the meeting.

Corissa left the meeting.

Chad left the meeting.

Michelle left the meeting.

Clark left the meeting.

Greg left the meeting.

Riley left the meeting.

Kaitlynn said, “Where did everyone go? Is this thing still working? Am I…alone here?”

The sound of police sirens and helicopter blades and gunshots rang out from somewhere extremely far away.

Time expired.

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