Looking Back on 2020 As I Look Forward

Jasmyne A. Cannick

Wow! What a year!

Most of us could not have imagined in our wildest dreams the year we just made it through–correction–that most of us just made it through.

We lost so many people this year to the coronavirus. I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know someone who died or someone who had someone in their immediate circle die. For me, it was my old neighbor, a retired school police officer named Mr. Jackson, and most recently a treasured friend and community member Ariel. And it’s not over yet. The threat still looms and we are still all very vulnerable.

And while the coronavirus was raging on, the voices of Black women were finally being heard–and respected. This is the first year in my entire life as a Black woman that I felt that America was listening to us and giving us our overdue props.  And while I know that everything has a season, I hope that this newfound love and respect for the Black woman continues on into 2021.

From Breonna Taylor to George Floyd and lesser known names closer to home like Dijon Kizzee, Daniel Rivera,  and Andres Guardado Pineda–the collective voices of the People rose up all across America in defense of those who were killed by the police.

Those same voices also used their vote to unseat politicians who were not in line with the criminal justice reform that is going to come to every corner of America. In Los Angeles, they said that district attorney Jackie Lacey had to go and indeed she did. For the first time that I can think of, voters chose to take notice of the money being funneled to candidates from police unions in elections and decided to take a stand. It is no longer business as usual and all candidates and politicians need to take note.

But 2020 wasn’t all bad.

I was elected to my first public office (thank you).  A start to what I hope is my path to higher office–because we need more Black women (with a conscience) in office. Reform L.A. Jails’ Measure R was passed by voters with a landslide vote (thank you). And for those not aware, Measure R was the first criminal justice ballot measure in L.A. County and probably the state and country that was led by Black women. I am proud to have been part of that team.  Thanks, Patrisse for your confidence in me.

I spent 2020 doing what I love to do–helping others. Whether it was with Team (Herb) Wesson as we helped feed an entire county during this pandemic, or it was making sure that foster youth had laptops, working with the Good Plus Foundation to provide free diapers to families in need, helping a mother looking for her missing son, standing with my Black trans sisters to call attention to all of the senseless violence and murders and giving a voice to the voiceless–I can look back and say that I am proud of the work that I did.

The goodness that I saw and continue to see in others during this crisis has helped to restore my faith in humanity.  Young, not so young, straight, LGBTQ and +, Black, white, Latinx, women, men, gender non-conforming, rich, poor–I’ve watched as we have looked out for our families, friends, neighbors, and even strangers during this pandemic and it’s been beautiful.

And yeah, we unseated Donald Trump.  Let’s just pull over and stop the car right here and let that sink in.  In just a few short weeks this nightmare will be over and Donald Trump will no longer be the President of the United States of America.  And while Joe Biden is no Messiah, he’s not Donald Trump either.  Plus, we’re getting our first female and first Black female vice-president out of the deal.

Which brings me to 2021.

You ain’t seen nothing yet. Like fine wine, I keep getting better with time and I am looking forward to what 2021 has in store for me.

I remain committed to supporting the work needed to change our communities for the better.

So lookout for some exciting news from me in the New Year!  I made a lot of changes in 2020 and laid the groundwork early on for my 2021 and I can’t wait to put it all into motion.

I want to thank everyone who has believed in me and supported me.  I want to thank all of my elders for all of their advice.  I can’t express to you how important your support is to me.  I take that support and try to pass it on to others through my work.

I am wishing you a safe entrance into the New Year. I really do hope all of y’all keep your butts at home so that I can see you healthy, happy, and prosperous in 2021–even if only virtually.

I am always rooting for Black people (who are doing right by Black people). Yes-I don’t root for Black people who are causing harm to others.  But I am also rooting for all People of Color, poor people, and any other group of people who have been victims of systemic racism–whatever color you are.  We still have work to do and I’m here for it.

I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb
I've had some weary days
And some sleepless nights
But when I, when I look around
And I think things over
All of my good days
Outweigh my bad days
I, I won't complain

Happy Kwanzaa and Happy New Year!