By Daniel Z.
The year 2020 hit the entire world like a sack of bricks that fell from the sky; where did it come from? No one expected how it would change the world the way it did. I remember New Year’s Day. There was such a sense of possibility. I thought 2020 was going to be a great year filled with fun, laughter, and joy. It was how most people go into the new year, expecting the best and hoping for the best. But 2020 was the exact opposite. I should have seen this year coming when my favorite artist passed away shortly before 2020 started. Juice Wrld or Jarad Higgins passed away on December 8th, 2019, from an overdose. His death made me extremely sad, and I had thought at that moment how it was possible for someone just to leave so soon and so suddenly. He had just turned 21, 5 days before his death. Shortly after, in January, my hero, my idol, the person I looked up to tragically passed away in a helicopter accident. His name was Kobe Bryant, and he passed away with eight others, including his daughter Gianna Bryant. A month later, in February of 2020, one of my favorite artists was murdered in his home in the middle of the night. His name was “Pop smoke” or Bashar Barakah Jackson, and he was also very young when he passed, and to this day, I still think about these three people every day. To start my year off, 2020 was not the best, and I should have seen what was coming in March, which was one of the worst things yet…Covid-19.
Covid locked us down in March. It took our summer away, also our school experience. It took away our youth. Yet what was “magical” about covid was that it did not let social and racial justice get in the way. Protesting and Black Lives Matter became everyday verbiage. And even though the pandemic, thousands of people across the country united and protested against black lives and police brutality; it was something to watch. According to the New York Times, an estimated “15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and others in recent weeks.” These figures would make the “protests the largest movement in the country’s history.” It was insane how so many different people came together to support one cause. So many citizens, celebrities, and people of color joined together to act as one. I have never seen anything like it. Even at twenty years old, I do not have too much experience with the “real” world, but this was a sight to see. It was something to believe in. Specifically, I believe it made a difference in our society, even if it was not by a lot. Some police have been taking it seriously and have been watching their step when confronting black people. I have not seen this firsthand, but I have seen much more happy and joyful connections between cops and citizens on social media.
Back in the 1900s, the Black community dealt with segregation. They were being treated like animals day after day. Thankfully, it is not like this today, but sadly some things are similar. Blacks are still being mistreated by white people in power, which is why the protests and riots happened. They are simply tired of dying under the hands of police and the murderer receiving no punishment. It was a repetitive thing happening in our country every year, even today. Though it is not as bad as it was in the 1990s, it is still extremely saddening to see how it is handled in today’s society. The incident that put it over the top was the murder of George Floyd, which was not the only a death caused at the hands of police over a supposedly fake $20 bill but also the last straw for the Black community. As NBC reports, “Mr. Floyd was a regular at Cup Foods. He was a friendly face, a pleasant customer who never caused any trouble.” It seems as though George Floyd was not someone who would hurt anyone and did not deserve what happened to him over a fake bill. The police are supposed to help put bad people away, but it seems that some are the bad ones themselves.
From another perspective, you can see it as people learning a thing or two. People all around the U.S. have learned that people of color have been suffering through all of it. Even after racism had died down and blacks and whites were no longer separated, people of color have suffered from discrimination. It may be a lot less than before, but it is still out there. Cathy Cohen, a University of Chicago scholar, believed that people of color do not have much of a voice in today's society. Hence, she considers the “looting or burning is in part the only way we can get people to pay attention to those communities and to recognize what is being replicated and reproduced as sickness in those communities.”
Covid ignited something in people. It made them realize that their lives are worth fighting for. Weeks in quarantine and isolation made people eager to fight. Not just to fight against the virus but also to fight for their rights and others’ rights. Yet, even months after the protests, there are still people fighting every day for the cause. It brings the question to mind…after everything we have gone through in the past year and all that was done, was it worth it? Will anything change? The answer is hopeful. There are investigations that have opened on police who have murdered innocent Black civilians, and police departments across the nation are enforcing stricter rules on cops. While America still has bad cops and racists who will never believe that Black Lives Matter, there is a sense of change and possibility. Over the next few decades, those who do not believe in the BLM movement will cease to exist or be a lower minority. Just like Covid with the announcement of the vaccine, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for racial justice.
Buchanan, Larry, et al. “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History.” The
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“George Floyd: What Happened in the Final Moments of His Life.” BBC News, BBC, 16 July
“Black Lives Matter Protests: Hope for the Future?” Black Lives Matter Protests: Hope for the
Future?: Big Brains Podcast | University of Chicago News, 17 June 2020,