Updated: Dec 14, 2020
What can I say about 2020? Perhaps, it was a prophetic start when a Bishop advised our Pastor to begin the year in full membership praying and fasting for the month. How could we have known this was preparation for a year like no other, beginning to end. The beginning of a TEST for all we know, all we are, all we do and believe, challenged in 2020.
The year began as usual, with the cheers to welcome it in, the resolution list and hopes for better outcomes. We felt healthy and “normal.” We knew what to expect the next week. Little did we know that the true TEST had begun. In fact, the setup started with large doses of negative to groom our mindsets from negative media, negative race relations, negative immigration, and negative political atmospheres to create negative thinking.
If we recall, in January, America was steeped in the effort to impeach President Trump. And in February, we were introduced to a virus threat that was dismissed as not worthy of pandemic concerns. We were wrong. By March, we knew that COVID-19 was serious and deadly. It was spreading around the world. School children were sent home.
Unemployment that was at record lows began to suffer the effects of COVID related job loss. Families were unable to pay rent, bills, medical costs, school fees and everyday expenses. April informed us that “normal” was as uncertain as the spread of this virus. Lock downs met us during these months as governors shut down businesses including restaurants, beauty and barber shops, gyms, entertainment sources and stores. NO church services. All with NO ideas for when re-openings would be likely.
The business of face masks and sanitizers boomed. With this, reports of resistance by some to wearing masks. People where killed for insisting that patrons wear a mask. More people were killed by this contagious virus passed by people not wearing masks.
We learned the term “essential” as in workers who had to report for public health. We praised some, vilified others, supported them and dismissed their plights in some cases. We learned of vulnerable groups including the aged, those with preconditions at risk, the poor without protections available to the better placed and some ethnic groups identified.
We looked for somebody to blame. Asians and those who looked like they could be Asian were harassed and threatened. Not just in America, but worldwide. The President was criticized for not acting fast enough, although no one could have known anything more that he, just as we saw in nations across the world. But, blame was necessary for some.
Response to COVID worldwide was a study in social interaction and change. While some nations shut down, others responded with moderate interventions and were microscoped. We also saw how the marginalized in all nations were treated as well as the "disposable" populations living in foreign lands. Many returned HOME. Globalization was debated and held responsible by some for the spread of COVID.
May brought us another major event. A distraction from COVID to systemic racism with the death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minnesota police officer. RACE RACE RACE! How did it get this bad? Is this the America I knew? Story after story emerged to confirm the dire state of race relations in America and other nations. Protests, bringing down the statues, demands for justice, I CAN’T BREATH. The rise of revolutionary postures by activist groups would be the news for months to come.
May and June also sadly voided customary rites of passage for youth like the Prom, graduations and sports events. Students in a stage of life that is focused on education, socialization, skill building and taking on "life learning" as their job, faced STOP, do not GO, and we can’t tell you how this is going to play out. No summer camp, no parties, no vacation, not interaction at the mall. A life full of no’s and lack of maturity to handle them. Time and experiences missed that cannot be make up in the future. This was extended to colleges in the Fall of 2020. We read the news accounts of eager students moving into the dorms only to have move out due to COVID clusters. Online classes meant sending some foreign students home or not allowing them to return.
MY GROUP status or rights or benefits was always in the headlines. How is my group affected by what is happening? How do we obtain or maintain political power? How do we insure that our group is accounted for in the 2020 Census? Can illegals be counted? We noted that Homeland was a recurring theme when people died and wanted to be returned HOME. Or the astounding billions of US dollars remitted HOME at a time when unemployment rendered many bankrupt.
So local political attention turned to social issues like defunding police, support for reparations, creating standards for equity at the community level. How to deal with failing students who are not in school everyday and parents who cannot work because they cannot afford a safe place for their children?
Holidays semi-cancelled. Forget Festivals. Forget Halloween. Forget travel to family during Thanksgiving. Forget the lights and over the top décor for Christmas. Thanksgiving has been deemed The National Day of Mourning New England Native Americans since 1970, which coincides with the Unthanksgiving Day on the West Coast. But in 2020, Native Americans protested by destroying monuments and business centers while introducing the LANDBACK movement demanding a reparation of indigenous land back to the people who were displaced by European settlers.
Perhaps, most on the minds of Americans as we near the end of 2020, is the Presidential election. Political party infighting has overpowered every aspect of our lives and to further undermine physical, mental, economic and spiritual wellbeing. Nasty political battles erupted to a louder tone in 2020 and national media took sides leaving Americans lodged in one camp or another. Some family members skipped Thanksgiving for political camp reasons.
Regardless of your political leanings, your citizenship status, your race or ethnicity, we believed that America had a chance of being one nation under the authority of a central government, in spite of. That is until the election of 2020 called this into question for so many. BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, has not been the theme of a contemporary presidential election until now. Hearing the testimony of veterans, young, mature, immigrant citizens, Americans of all races with a resounding plea for the America they believed in, for love of Homeland and belief in the Constitution has touched us as a people.
2020 is the year that should pull your head out of the sand. As we listen to talk of a new civil war, of burning down America, of states seceding from the union, I say where have you been? Where were you when opportunities to understand systemic racism, identity politics, political party worship, passing authority to foreign entities, pitting Americans against each other, ignoring or suppressing the impact of illegal immigration on poor and minority populations, representation without accountability, dismissing the voices of the people, ignoring Homeland principles, NOT HOLDING LOCAL AND NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES accountable for your rights being preserved.
We made this mess. In February, I introduced workshops to teach understanding race relations. The first workshop, Color Blind explored the importance of recognizing race. The second, Defining Race, set us on the same page to understand terms and consequences of racial identification, then, Stereotypes that prepared us for continued structural bias and next, how Advertising reflected this American notion of race. Finally workshop asked, Can We Get Along? NOBODY CAME