Lydia Heye '19

Law Student, UCLA School of Law

Lydia HeyeThe pandemic forced many of us to move our entire world onto our desktop screens, in the process eliminating many everyday inconveniences like commuting in traffic or going to meetings that could have been emails. However, the pandemic did not eliminate racism. If anything, it drew it out into the light. 

In May, the nation’s attention turned to the harsh reality of police brutality after the horrific video surfaced of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For many Black Americans such as myself, the story of George Floyd sounded like an all too familiar tune, like Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Freddie Gray, and Eric Garner. However, this time was different.

This summer, the nation faced a reckoning. Perhaps it was because the normal distractions were gone. Everyone was stuck on their phones, computers, and TVs. No one could look away. Or perhaps it was because the pandemic compelled us as a nation reflect on our own values and made us recognize our common humanity. Whatever the reason, this summer the true character of not only our nation, but also our broader global community, came to the surface.

Millions of people around the world took to the streets to proclaim that Black lives matter. Businesses, schools, and other organizations began to take on substantive and structural changes to acknowledge the ways they have been complicit in racism. On an individual level, I saw friends and family members begin to speak out against racism and have tough conversations with their communities about the realities of racism in our daily lives. Those who had never before expressed an interest in understanding their own privilege began to reach out in want of educational resources and places where they can help.

Unfortunately, the moment was not met similarly by everyone. This summer not only sparked the quest for justice of many around the world, it also revealed the indifference that is still prevalent throughout large swaths of our society. While many may be discouraged by the amount of ignorance and animosity some have toward the idea of equity and justice, I am inspired and reassured by the vast amounts of people who took to the streets and are continually trying to learn how to be a better ally and advocate.

The year 2020 will forever be defined by immense loss, perseverance, and reckoning, but I believe it also placed us on a new path toward a more just future.