I’m sure this isn’t a new sentiment, but 2020 is not a year anyone expected. As of the time of this writing, it’s been one hundred and sixty-nine days of internally screaming. Which means there’s one hundred and ninety-six days to go. One hundred ninety-six days of unpredictable chaos. And although there’s one hundred ninety-six days to go, I thought I would reflect on the year behind us before I take a moment and reflect on the future.
When Mother Nature Told Us To Go To Our Rooms
In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) became aware of a novel- meaning new- form of coronavirus, a disease that causes cold and flu like symptoms and can cause MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) or SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). The novel form WHO identified at first appeared in China (specifically, Wuhan) in December of 2019 and came about because of natural genetic mutations. This virus is known scientifically as SARS-COV2 but in official shorthand is COVID-19. Ever since it came into being, everything has gone straight down the hill like Jack and Jill except there’s no bucket of water to be our saving grace. And then, on March 19 it began:
State of California
WHEREAS On March 4, 2020, I declare a State Of Emergency to exist in California as a result of COVID-19.
You can find a PDF download of Governor Gavin Newsom’s complete statement here but the short of it was this: unless you’re deemed an essential worker stay home. And after California, it was Illinois, then New Jersey, then New York. One state after another until all fifty states told their citizens that for the sake of their health and the health of others they needed to stay home. And people did- and people didn’t. There was protest, of course. Because why can’t we all just listen to the expert? Why believe them when we believe the “expert” on television saying COVID-19 is caused by 5G towers or is nothing but an experiment by a Chinese scientist that got out of hand. Or, if they think the virus is real, they think it’s no big deal because it’s only going to kill grandma and she’s lived long enough. Let’s just forget about those with autoimmune diseases, babies, and small children whose immune systems haven’t yet developed fully. Let’s just forget about people like me who still live with their parents, and would hate to see die because someone decided that being told to wear a mask is an invasion of their freedom.
What angers me most about all this is that it’s working. States, including my own, have reopened. There is no mandatory requirement to wear masks. No one is enforcing social distancing or saying anything about the health of the public. What’s even worst is that cases are spiking, and no one seems to care. No one who should care at least.
If you’re someone who cares, please speak up.
Speaking of speaking up:
When You Realize You Need To Use Your Voice: The Virus That Is Racism
On March 25, 2020, a convenience store in Minneapolis called 911 to report that a man by the name of George Floyd had given them a fake twenty-dollar bill. Seventeen minutes later, George Floyd was dead as a result of a knee being pressed to this throat. And what was George Floyd’s crime, besides paying with a twenty that maybe he didn’t know was counterfeit? Being black. And even if he knew about the counterfeit twenty, did he really deserve to die for it? No. He died, in short, because he was black.
Before George Floyd, I was one of those people that thought that combating racism wasn’t something I should do. I believe that me just saying, “don’t be racist,” was enough. It’s not- and it shouldn’t have taken the horrible death of a black man to make me realize that racism is everyone’s problem. But I’m learning how naïve I was and still am. As a reader, I knew minority voices struggled to be heard within the industry. Like anyone, I made an effort to diversify the authors I read. White authors are fine and all, but they’re not the only ones out there with stories to tell. But I wasn’t doing enough, and I’ve made a vow to do better. To speak up and to not sit by and twiddle my thumbs. White silence is white violence. And there is enough violence in this world because of systematic racism.
As I think about my naïveté, I’m also thinking back to my first conscience memory of a death caused by racism. The year was 2012- you know, the year the world was going to end. I was in eighth grade but every morning, we watched the news. On this day, the news talked about the murder of seventeen-year-old Trevon Martin. His murderer? George Zimmerman, an older man with a conceal carry license and a twisted sense of justice. Martin had been walking home from a trip to a 7-Eleven when Zimmer, who’d been driving around in his car, spotted Martin and decided to pursue him. It ended with the two fighting and, eventually, Zimmerman used his gun to end the seventeen-year old’s life. Unprovoked, unwarranted. What did Trevon do to be so senselessly slaughtered? Nothing. Nothing, according to Zimmerman, except be born with a skin tone darker than his own. In the following months, I watched the events play out from my television screen. I saw the protest, I saw the cries for justice, and I saw what happened when our justice system failed. Despite overwhelming proof that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense, the man was found not guilty.
We shouldn’t lose hope. We should continue to speak up and lend our voices. Victory is a rocky road with cracked sidewalks. Getting back up after our justice system lets us down isn’t easy. Maintaining the hope that things will change won’t be easy. But nevertheless, we must persist.
The following are various places I got information from to write the part about COVID-19. I hate the idea of unintentionally spreading misinformation so for the sake of transparency, I’m posting the links here (cited in APA format).
Muccari, R., Chow, D., & Murphy, J. (2020, June 4). Coronavirus timeline: Tracking the critical moments of COVID-19. https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/coronavirus-timeline-tracking-critical-moments-covid-19-n1154341.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, February 15). Coronavirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html.
Andersen, K. G., Rambaut, A., Lipkin, W. I., Holmes, E. C., & Garry, R. F. (2020, March 17). The proximal origin of SARS-CoV-2. Nature News. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9.
What Is a Coronavirus? (2020, March 31). https://www.healthline.com/health/coronavirus-types#summary. Published: Apr 09, 2020. (2020, April 9).
When State Stay-at-Home Orders Due to Coronavirus Went into Effect. KFF. https://www.kff.org/other/slide/when-state-stay-at-home-orders-due-to-coronavirus-went-into-effect/.
Resources To Fight Racism
The following links are places to donate, petitions to sign, and other resources to help fight racism. Have something to add? Put it in the comments!
Black Lives Matter– an organization dedicated to fighting for freedom and justice for black voices. On their site, you can find links to resources as well as updates on their activities.
Change.org– one this site, you can find many petitions to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more. It’s recommended that if you want to donate, donate to the organization responsible for the petition rather than the website itself as the money goes to the website instead other organization. When you sign a petition, be sure to share it as well to help spread the message.
Racial Justice Bookshelf– on this site, you can find a list of black-owned bookstores in your state. Includes recommendations for books written by authors of color. Site is fairly new, so some bookstores might not be added yet.
Bookshop– want to support indie bookstores? That’s what Bookshop is for. Many indie bookstores, including those that are black owned, have pages on the site.