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the one where we come together to enact real change(?)
the part two || 6.26.2020
The year is 2020. Among other tragedies and conflicts, the world saw devastating wildfires, drone strikes, a fatal passenger plane incident, the start of a presidential impeachment trial, an international icon lost, the controversial exits of a country out of an international trade agreement and high-profile members from a royal family, and word (and cases) of a new life-threatening virus starting to spread—all within the first month of this new decade alone.
The year is now just past half over, but it feels like an entire lifetime has been lived since January. Thus far, 2020 has played out like a chaotic sequence of crises from multiple points in the past; together, they easily warrant an entire chapter or two in future history books. Those few hundred virus cases have turned into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the epicenter has migrated from China to the Americas. The United States has had the most confirmed cases (over two million), and there have been hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world, not to mention a global recession induced by locked-down societies and extensive self-quarantining.
There probably will not be a vaccine until next year, but we have begun to carry on. As societies somewhat mostly cautiously reopen and recover, the mid-election cycle United States and many other countries are now also reconciling with an even bigger crisis that has permeated every aspect of our lives and been wrongfully allowed to prevail for centuries: systemic racism and white supremacy.
the long-overdue conversation
George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. He was not the first civilian ever to be killed by someone whose duty is supposedly to "serve and protect," nor was he the first (or, infuriatingly, the last) Black person killed by a white person this year. His punishment of death far exceeded his crime, and many people of color have been killed for far less. The murderer's callousness as he kneeled on another man’s neck was seen just as clearly as Floyd's cries were heard ‘round the world, and this incident has sparked the most far-reaching civil rights movement of modern time.
Despite the pandemic, continued violence and false claims, and other adversities, mass protests have already taken place in more than 2,000 cities in every single one of the 50 United States, as well as cities large and small all around the planet. People are using their voices on the streets (and online) to seek justice for Floyd—and people like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery before him, and Rayshard Brooks after him. They want to see the end of systematic violence and oppression against BIPOC, which has sustained in the United States from genocidal colonialism and slavery to Jim Crow and segregation to mass incarceration and police brutality. They don’t want to see another video of a fellow human being gasping “I can’t breathe.”
Of all the demands for awareness and action, the loudest are for accountability, punishment, and defunding of law enforcement, as well as prison reform and investment in Black and Brown communities.
While there has been a lot of listening and learning going on, and we’ve even witnessed some progressive steps taken by leaders and the general public to address some of these societal ills, we’ve also seen belligerent bias and unapologetic ignorance. These too are viruses for which we don’t yet have a vaccine, and it’s obvious that there is no simple solution that can instantly right this long history of wrongs.
Not as obvious to some but definitely important to highlight is that this is not an issue of just the oppressed. As many have pointed out, it is not enough to merely be “not racist”; anyone who wants everyone to live a fair and functional experience must strive to be actively anti-racist and unselfishly outspoken.
Defeating systemic racism and oppression, acknowledging privilege, and making the world safer and more equal for all requires re-education (particularly for white people and anyone wielding power), breaking up with old habits and misconceptions, and dismantling systems that aren’t working. This effort will take years if not decades, so it cannot stand to be delayed any longer.
Aside from the aspect of longevity, there is a glaring distinction that must be made between this crisis and the rollercoaster of havoc this year has had us strapped in for: those were all “force majeure” whereas this has been in our hands. The destruction, pain, and loss experienced from these acts of God and government all pale in comparison to the ongoing list of human rights violations that have been manufactured and maintained by everyday people. So, just as racism, white supremacy, police brutality, and other systemic injustices are human-made, lasting changes for the better will not happen without us.
There is so much that can be done now and even more that will have to continuously, consciously be addressed moving forward—and, much of it can (and should) be done in one’s personal time and within their homes and familial, social, and professional circles. Whether protesting from the couch or out in public, there are so many causes to support and resources to read, watch, and listen to… starting right now.
Justice in June (created by two passionate twenty-somethings!) lists many of them, and they even have done some of the grunt work by laying out schedules to help you become an active ally. The following are also some great starting points we’ve personally informed ourselves with or been told about:
1619 (a New York Times podcast)
How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi
Code Switch (NPR)
American Police, Throughline (NPR)
No matter what else happens in the second half, 2020 very well may be the year of our lifetime. It will have a lasting impression on us all because of all the shared, yet different experiences each individual and community has had. While some may be eager to get back to life as it were, the Black Lives Matter movement has pointed out a few of the many ways in which “normal” wasn’t necessarily “the best” or even all that “good” in the first place.
Therefore, out of everything, what should arguably stand out most from this year is that problems, like racism, that have existed long before 2020 have been allowed to continue to persist. Not only that, but so many of the other issues we’ve recently faced have innate connections to this problem. (Look up ‘environmental racism,’ for example.) Conquering current and future issues cannot be done unless every human being on Earth is valued, and our laws, policies, workforces, and social codes reflect that.
Summed up, THIS moment matters. So, while 2020 will forevermore be the year in which x, y, and z happened, can we also make it our personal and shared mission to ensure that 2020 is the year in which conversations and repairs began that catalyzed meaningful, lasting change?
Alicia and Sydney, the part two’s co-founders, stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and every single individual and organization actively working towards a better, equal tomorrow for all. In doing so, we also must acknowledge that we are two white women and our stories are different from the stories of others. Though we aim to showcase diverse voices and stories on our website and on social, there is definitely room for improvement as we grow our reach and dedicate more time and effort to this project. the part two is meant to be a community for all twenty-somethings, so we will always welcome anyone to suggest or write the content they want to see on our site. Likewise, we ask that readers never hesitate to communicate their thoughts or suggestions on existing articles. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.