The First Summer
This year has been crazy. A global pandemic shut down damn near the whole planet. Unemployment is at record levels in many places as we brace for second waves of the disease, and the full economic impact of lockdown measures to be revealed. I told my dad I can’t remember ever experiencing anything like this at the start of the lockdown. He said he couldn’t remember anything like this in his life either.
Then, as we were coming to grips with this new normal under the pandemic, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd caused the anguish and pain of Black people, bottled up for so long, to be brought into focus through marches and protests in Canada, the US, UK among other nations.
Many people would say this is the worst year they’ve ever lived through, and it’s only halfway through. In another way of looking at things, this year is a year we’ve needed.
We’ve seen over the last few decades how broken capitalism has become. The Great Recession of ‘08 was caused by the 1%, and since then incomes for middle class people have stagnated while the rich have become far richer. Meanwhile our cities have become unaffordable for so many, contributing to traffic jams and pollution. COVID-19 has challenged the way people look at the social safety net, and previous fringe issues like a universal basic income. Meanwhile, working remotely may go from an emergency measure to a permanent fixture for many companies, which will reduce emissions from cars and allow more freedom of movement for employees.
Racism is deeply entrenched across the world, but some of its worst effects are seen in Black communities across North America and Europe. Hundreds of years of propaganda have trivialized Black lives to the point that abuse, marginalization and demonization are viewed as the norm. The killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd in particular caused an outpouring of grief and action unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. This time, the reaction went far beyond Black communities. Allies seem to be working harder than ever to create space for Black voices and to help in the work of dismantling the systems that oppress Black people. There’a a long way to go, but maybe, just maybe, Black people are not in this battle alone anymore.
I’m naturally optimistic. This year has been painful, but I refuse to let it break my spirit. Instead I’m looking at it as a break from the past. Inequality will still exist, racism will still exist, but I think the year has humbled and enlightened too many people for the old status quo to return. I’m hopeful that “the new normal” will be a better normal for so many of us. So to me, this is The First Summer of a new world. I hope my positivity shines through in what I’ve created for you all to enjoy!