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Culture

2020 Year-End Recap

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This year has been a year like no other. The past 12 months have brought us some of the highest of highs and lowest of lows, a year where there was so much to lose but also much to gain. We were met with nationwide hardships coupled with history-making moments, brought together to mourn and bond, while also being physically kept apart.

It’s difficult to unpack a year filled to the brim with new, unfamiliar challenges, but we’ve recapped a small sampling of the millions of moments captured over the last 365 days.

Global Shift

Nearly a year into the pandemic, it’s impossible to not feel the global shift that’s occurred over the last 12 months. These turbulent times have brought us together to collectively grieve and mourn, but also to celebrate and experience joy in the small moments.

We’ve been forced to relearn what we saw as simple daily activities: going to school and work, visiting the local coffee shop for a morning brew, seeing friends and family, public transportation, things that we’ve likely taken for granted in the past. We’ve had to put trust in each other and care for our neighbors and communities now more than ever to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. 

The George Floyd Protests

Eight minutes and 46 seconds changed the course of the year in the matter of minutes. Protests broke out on May 26 in Minneapolis following the death of 46-year-old, George Floyd. Every day from May to November, peaceful protests, rallies, and marches took place nationwide to fight for racial equity not only in our country, but worldwide. Protests took place in over 2,000 cities and 60 countries to support the Black Lives Matter movement and fight against police brutality.

These rallies ignited a global spark, with people from all ages, races, genders coming together on one united front, calling for justice after a centuries long battle. It’s estimated that 15 to 26 million people participated in demonstrations, becoming one of the largest protests in the history of the United States. These protests sparked a cultural movement, spotlighting Black businesses, authors, creatives, and organizations while also holding corporations and companies responsible through the Pull Up For Change movement, started by UOMA Beauty’s founder Sharon Chuter, which asked brands to disclose the number of Black employees at the companies while also encouraging brands to have 10% Black corporate employment.

Stacey Abrams and allies gets record breaking voter turnout in Georgia

During the 2020 election, Georgia broke its own early voter turnout record thanks to the efforts of one woman and allies in her state: Stacey Abrams. The “New York Times” bestselling author served for 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives before becoming the first black woman in the U.S. to be a major party’s nominee for governor. 

In 2018, Abrams founded Fair Fight to address voter suppression, especially in her home state of Georgia. The organization’s aim is to bring awareness to the public about election reform, advocate for election reform, as well as engage the community in voter education programs. With the help from other local organizers, like The New Georgia Project’s CEO, Nsé Ufot, ProGeorgia’s executive director, Tamieka Atkins, and Fair Count’s CEO, Rebecca DeHart, Abrams fought tirelessly during this year’s election against voter suppression. Through her campaigning, Abrams built the infrastructure that helped over 800,000 new voters get registered in her state. 

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Halima quits runway

Halima Aden revealed in November that she is taking a step back from fashion and quitting runway shows entirely, calling the fashion industry “toxic.” The 23-year-old model said that her work, though trailblazing, caused her to lose sight of her religious beliefs, citing skipping prayers, styling her hijab in ways that she felt betrayed her values, and wearing clothes she wasn’t comfortable in as part of the issue. 

Aden, a Somali-American who lived in a Kenyan refugee camp before moving to the United States with her family when she was 7, was a trailblazer in the fashion industry. She was the first hijab-wearing woman to appear on British Vogue, was part of Vogue Arabia’s first group hijabi cover, and was the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

TIME’s First Kid of The Year: Gitanjali Rao

For the first time ever, TIME added a new category to their annual awards: Kid of the Year. For the first time, they selected 15-year-old Indian-American Gitanjali Rao from a pool of 5,000 nominees to become the first recipient of TIME’s designation for her outstanding work using technology to tackle issues from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction, cyberbullying, and more. 

Rao noticed that by second or third grade, she started to wonder how she could use technology and science to create a social change. Since then, she has partnered with rural schools, girls in STEM organizations and global museums and has even hit her goal of tutoring 30,000 students.

“I don’t look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white man as a scientist,” she told Angelina Jolie who interviewed her for TIME. “From personal experience, it’s not easy when you don’t see anyone else like you. So I really want to put out that message: If I can do it, you can do it, and anyone can do it.”

Kamala Harris Makes History

Kamala Harris made history with a string of firsts for the country. Come January, the vice-president elect will become the first female vice president, in addition to being the first Black and South Asian vice president. 

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” Harris said in her first speech as the official vice-president elect. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”

2020 was not the year that anybody could have planned or predicted. It presented unique challenges, while also bringing issues to light that have been ever-present, resting beneath the surface waiting to burst again. It made history in more ways than you could count. With loss and destruction comes creation, leaving us with a foundation for newness for the year to come.

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