We made it! That seems to be the phrase I have heard from friends, family, students, and strangers alike. This year was simultaneously incredibly long and unusually fast. We began the year in a state of shock and disbelief that we made it through a global pandemic for 10 months in 2020. Many people entered 2021 with trepidation and extreme anxiety. So many people across the world have had a year of loss, fear, and illness, and so many have had a year of resilience, additions, and new changes for the good.
We began the year with an insurrection on our democracy on January 6th. So many of us are still processing that frightening and bold attempt at a white nationalist violent takeover of our government. Those effects have served as an undercurrent of our entire year. We saw electoral victories in Georgia with the election of two Democratic U.S. senators, the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th president, and we are ending the year with Stacey Abrams declaring her intention to run a second time for governor of Georgia in 2022.
We saw COVID-19 rates ebb and flow. However, we also saw millions of Americans get vaccinated and boostered in hopes of slowing down and ultimately curtailing the spread of this mutating virus that has touched almost every person physically, mentally, emotionally, or financially. So many communities were resilient in the face of so much loss. Unfortunately, far too many people refuse to think of the greater good. They refuse to take precautions that will help themselves or their neighbors and because of this, the lowering levels of rates of infection are now creeping back up. Doctors and nurses are back to reporting high levels of sick and dying COVID patients, largely unvaccinated.
This year did have bright moments. As people got vaccinated they were able to reunite with loved ones, travel just a bit, and begin to notice the minor things they took for granted in years past. I developed a deeper love of birding and have even gotten a few friends hooked on “looking up” and observing the beautiful birds all around us. My ear now hears bird calls and ignores the sounds of city sirens.
I know many people have begun to read more and even write more. Many friends kept a journal this year (I wish I had) and have chronicled their feelings about the state of the world, their country, their family, their job, and so much more. We even survived several elections on local and state levels across the country.
I do hope 2022 brings a sense of calm and community to us all. In the midst of a pandemic, we still have so much to be thankful for. We may just need to look up or take a deeper listen. Happy New Year.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.