After a year as exhausting and awful as 2020, everyone seems ready to welcome in the new year and leave 2020 in the rearview mirror. Moving forward into 2021, it can be tempting to try and forget this past year ever even happened. Despite the hardships of 2020, the lessons it taught need to be remembered and carried into the new year.
COVID-19 hit hard in 2020 and is the primary reason most people want to forget this year ever happened. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between Jan. 21 and Dec. 29 the United States has suffered over 19 million cases of COVID-19, and more than 335,000 deaths.
In Illinois, things don’t look much better, with Tier 3 mitigations still in effect after a resurgence of cases in November. McLean County has reported its highest numbers of COVID-19-related deaths for the year in this month. This isn’t to dampen anyone’s holiday spirits. We just cannot ignore the impact this year has had on our communities, country and world as we move forward.
The continued presence of COVID-19 means that we must keep following safety guidelines in 2021. As hard as it has been to stay separated from loved ones over this year, it would be so much worse to have gone all this time only to become lax now. While 2020 is coming to an end, there is still a long road ahead of us to getting COVID-19 under control, and we have to stand with each other — 6 feet apart of course — to cross that finish line.
However, COVID-19 was not the only major event of this year, nor the only thing we should carry with us into 2021. Following the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, issues of racial bias — particularly in the actions of the police when encountering Black men and women on the job — exploded into the public view.
Across the nation, and in other parts of the world, the cry went out to address the racial discrimination embedded in our social institutions. Black Lives Matter protests took place across the country and locally in Bloomington-Normal to address the terrifying and deadly consequences of bias in the police force and in every facet of our society.
As we move into 2021 with a new president and the prospect of a better year ahead, we need to remember these protests and the promises that followed. Just because 2020 is over does not mean the struggles it started are over, or that we can forget what we saw the world become. In 2021 we need to move forward by building off of and learning from the past, not ignoring it.
So, burn your 2020 calendar, and spend the day celebrating the new year that has so much potential for change and betterment. But don’t forget how we made it to 2021.