Reflections on the Moment
With over 250,000 Americans dead, family members unable to gather to celebrate, the economic destruction of the pandemic, and a year of racial and political conflict, giving thanks might feel a bit difficult for some. Nevertheless, I would like to share my list of positive developments from this year. I hope you have one too.
There is a great reckoning underway within white-America due to our lack of accountability for the racism, sexism and patriarchy that permeate society. We will never change the individual minds of some, but we must continue eliminating the persistent policies and structures that still oppress millions of people. Given the multitude of books, print and broadcast media now out on the issue of oppression, I sense this great awakening is a trend, not a fad. Most heartening for me, I am witnessing sincere antiracist statements and actions from white colleagues and friends. Our nation’s shadow side is being admitted, examined and addressed as never before in my lifetime. I give thanks for that.
I am proud of our country for rejecting the mean-spirited politics of fear and the lies of a president. Young people turned out to vote as never before because they seek a brighter future than our current course will allow. Less white Americans, both noncollege and college educated, voted for Mr. Trump in 2020 than in 2016. Native American and Latin voters delivered Arizona to Biden. The state of Georgia’s recent presidential vote is a triumph for Black women. Both these states demonstrated the power and ability of their nonwhite voters to advance racial justice in the face of stiff resistance to change. Overall, the election result lowered the threat to the Republic, which seemed headed toward dictatorship. I am grateful for that.
I am grateful that the brittleness of our industrial food system was fully revealed by the pandemic. It is undeniable that tens of thousands of food chain workers, from field to table, have been hurt and large food factories have been severely hobbled. Light has been shone on the need for wider distribution of processing facilities and the advantages that could come from a regionalized food production infrastructure. This fact and ROC’s history of good work in support of healthy food and agriculture has made this a year of impressive growth and impact for our program. I very grateful to you our supporters, our funders, our clients and colleagues who have made this possible.
Finally, I am grateful that there was a silver lining to the need to socially distance. I have not traveled since March 13th. In my spare time, I have completed many projects long planned in my yard and house. I have cooked more, gardened more, and used new technologies to more frequently visit with friends who live far away. I actually feel more grounded, rested and hopeful about the prospects for change than ever before.
I believe it took this great halt to our lives, and this president who reflects our darker impulses, for critical social and economic transformation to become possible. Collectively, we have been forced to look into a national mirror and see the reality of our nation. Individually, we have had enough stillness and time to look inward and challenge ourselves to be better people. Enough of us have done this work to alter the nation’s course. Those are good outcomes for a very trying year.
(Photo credit: Joshep Chan, Unsplash)