The Pandemic Year: Three Sets of Experiences in Three Different Places
I am a resident of Maryland and have been for the past 14 years. During this same time, I have worked as a professor, reference librarian and archivist at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). For the past four years, I have been a part-time librarian at the Pence Law Library at American University. UDC is an HBCU and has been a source of social activism and efforts against racism throughout its history. Student and Faculty Interest in these issues greatly increased especially due to the harmful actions of the Trump administration, the rise of right-wing extremism, and the effects of the Pandemic which had profoundly and disproportionately affected African American communities in several ways including in terms of rates of infection, deaths, and economically in terms of factors such as job loss, food insecurity, and housing insecurity.
In addition, my original home-town was the Minneapolis-St. Paul. My disabled sister lived very close to the area where George Floyd died. I was in South Minneapolis for much of the summer of 2020, because I was caring for my sister and my father passed away that summer as well. I, thus, personally witnessed the unrest and aftermath following the killing of Mr. Floyd. There was a tremendous amount of discord and destruction in South Minneapolis. There were very serious national efforts to defund the police and to rethink public safety, with Minneapolis as being one of the focal points of these efforts. Over the summer, I also traveled with my wife to Oregon. In that state, we protests, large communities of homeless people in Portland and Eugene, and came upon a large and angry Trump-oriented protest against the Governor's anti-pandemic mandates.
2020 was a dramatic, trying, tragic and traumatic years. Many of the issues involved did not originally arise in 2020, but they came to a head in dramatic and urgent ways. It will take the nation years to resolve most of these longstanding issues. However, the year gave fresh urgency that these issues need attention and these issues need to be resolved now.