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When I think about how collectively difficult the past two years have been, I’m disappointed in how little it seems we’ve all learned from the hardships. First and foremost, people have lost their lives. As of March 2022, almost one million Americans have died because of the coronavirus. You might hate wearing a mask. You might not trust the vaccine because you (understandably) cannot possibly comprehend how they developed it as a “insert your non-scientific job title here.” You might know people who got sick despite being vaccinated and others who have been able to stay healthy despite remaining unvaccinated. You might even be inclined to question whether one million people have died directly from COVID-19, or whether it was one of multiple compounding factors or underlying causes. Regardless, can we all agree that someone, somewhere has lost their life from this disease and that it has profoundly affected and devastated the lives of their loved ones, healthcare workers, those who have lost their jobs, immunosuppressed individuals and so many more groups of people? Is one loss of life enough for you to care about anyone who is not yourself or would it have needed to decimate half the world’s population in order to get your sincere attention? A pandemic has dominated our lives for the past two years. If that can’t get us to care about one another, then I shudder to think of what will.

We’ve spent a long time pretending that racism and prejudice have magically disappeared. These past two years have shown us it clearly has not and that ignoring it will not solve the problem. When slavery ended, black and white people did not waltz hand-in-hand down the streets in celebration. In case some of us need to be reminded, we actually fought a civil war over slavery. Yes, unfortunately, “state’s rights” as you might have learned it, was in reference to the confederacy’s right to uphold slavery. Oh, and once the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, racism didn’t cease to exist.

Race issues in America don’t only involve white and black populations, either. The genocide of indigenous Americans and the continuous effort to reappropriate their lands, and the Japanese internment camps and anti-Asian racism in this country are not addressed nearly enough. Why are we still arguing about racism? Why are people who have no idea what critical race theory is adopting it as a new buzzword to dismiss the real and important work that people in this country are doing to promote racial equality? If you truly don’t believe racism exists in this nation and that you don’t stand to lose anything by living in a post-racial society, then why would you care if someone decides to dedicate their life’s work to anti-racism? I’m sure it’s much more uncomfortable and tedious to read Dr. Kendi’s Stamped From the Beginning and have your own views challenged than it is to just wait and see what Ben Shapiro and Tucker Carlson think despite not having read it either. Believe it or not, Ketanji Brown Jackson has not been sent by the critical race theory mega-minds to dismantle the white supremacist framework of America – she’s actually just a black woman who is more accomplished than any and all of us, which I guess in the minds of small-minded people might as well be the same thing.

Since 2020, I’ve learned that I know absolutely nothing. With every book I read, class I take, differing opinion I seek and person I talk to, I become a little less ignorant. Don’t be afraid to try it some time!

Hi, I'm Olivia! I'm a senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a major in Neuroscience, minors in Spanish, Africana Studies, and Chemistry, and a certificate in Global Health! In my free time you can find me at the gym, listening to a podcast, or hanging out with my friends!