May 24, 2021
[From the Introduction]
For the students, faculty, and staff at Bronx Community College, March 2020 was a sucker punch to the gut.
Our vibrant campus, a beautiful haven filled with vitality and life, became a kind of petri dish—ground zero for the COVID 19 virus to make landfall.
Not only were many students and staff sickened in those early days, but the City University system was forced to close, then transition to remote learning in the space of a single week.
It was a challenge, to say the least: for faculty who needed to quickly learn the tools to make it possible, and even more so for the students, who—cut off from socialization and in person learning—had to adjust to this new reality.
Stranded in their homes, some students were forced to continue working frontline jobs, while others lost jobs and income, facing financial devastation. Students were confronted with their own illness as well as that of family members.
Online learning was fraught in those early days. As a community, we improvised our way forward, without the proper technology and knowhow to do it.
But two years on, our students have proven their resilience. In time, we adapted to remote learning, to new ways of doing things, of coping. 2020 was harder, and in 2021, the challenges continued. But, somehow, we got through.
These student books provide a glimpse into the minds of the talented BCC Digital Design students who persevered, strived, and thrived.
I will be submitting a fiction diary that consists of a collection of poetry. These poems are chosen with azazel in mind. He worships misfortune and only loves one woman. Who later passes away due to the coronavirus. The corona virus he once praised because it killed off his enemies. The poetry found in his diary are from famous poets all around and the writing expresses his feelings of hate and despair.
This book is a guide to something that I try to apply in my daily life and that is to take the positive out of every situation. Although this global pandemic has affected us all directly, I truly believe that we can do valuable things with the time and resources we have.
I have selected a photo of a few parents standing around the front of a school. Some were protesting and other were trying to gather information about the nyc public school shutting down because of covid 19. This photo was not taken by me but was found on the internet among other photos similar like this one. This photo shows what was going on in my neighborhood and what was currently take place at the time.
We have preserved in this short film a selection of Theatre Workshop students' authentic experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to share these stories with you.
I decided to choose as a source an image related to the COVID 19 virus. The image belongs to https://www.pharmaceutical-technology.com/news/coronavirus-countries-cross-100-covid-19-world-update/. This website provides information about the virus and was last updated on March 12, 2020. The image shows the virus spread around the planet earth. This image helps me explain what the virus is and how it spread. I select this type of source because I consider that it expresses a simple but concise message. I consider that it is something that everyone can understand and from which they can learn. By looking at the image people can get an idea of what the spread of the virus really meant. They can observe that its spread was not in a specific area, but rather that it spread around the entire world.
Since the virus made its first appearance in Wuhan China, everything has turned into a catastrophe. The virus began to spread rapidly around the world. People were really not prepared for the COVID 19 virus. Many people died from this virus and those who were infected and survived did not have a good time. The virus isolated everyone and everything stopped being what it always was. People could no longer visit their loved ones or spend time with them. Many businesses closed, and as a result many people lost their jobs. Now everyone had to wear masks, they had to keep their distance from each other, and they also had to constantly wash their hands. This was somewhat frustrating, as people searched for gloves, masks, and disinfectants in stores. However, because everyone was looking for the same items there was a shortage of them. Sometimes when people found such items they could only buy one per person, especially alcohol and disinfectants. People really felt desperate. Things had changed a lot. Now many people had to work from home. The same thing happened with the students. Students had to take classes from home through a computer. This was something that didn't seem right to everyone. Many students lost interest.
I consider that both historians and everyone in the future should be aware of what the COVID 19 virus was. Although the COVID 19 virus is a new virus that arose suddenly, it is not the first time that humanity experiences something like this. Previously around a hundred years ago something similar had happened with the Spanish flu. The Spanish flu like COVID 19 had also become a pandemic. Because of this, millions of people died. However, this was something that remained in the past as no one spoke of this event. I consider that people could have learned something from the history of the Spanish flu and applied that knowledge during COVID. However, few people are aware of what the Spanish flu was. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account everything related to COVID 19. Although it is likely that the appearance of a new virus cannot be prevented, at least people will know how to protect themselves and thus prevent the spread. The virus spread around the world rapidly for various reasons. However, one of these reasons was that people had no idea how to react to the virus. If people had had an idea of how to protect themselves at that time, perhaps the virus would not have spread the way it did. I believe that acquiring the necessary knowledge about the virus will be of great help in the future.
The photo highlights a peaceful protest that involved the participation of medical faculty. The health care workers included in this photograph included doctors, nurses, admin, security guards and handful of maintenance. This was demonstration to support the Black Lives Matter Movement after the killing of a George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. The individuals in this photo can all be seen taking a knee similar to the protest method used by Colin Kaepernick.
National Football League, player Colin Kaepernick took his first knee on September 1, 2016. The taking of the knee went against the tradition of standing during the signing of the National Anthem. Kaepernick said at the time: “I am not going up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color”. The people in this picture felt the same exact sentiments as Kaepernick.
I chose this source because I wanted historians to understand the impact of the pandemic and the unity it created amongst individuals of different races. As a health care worker, I faced the challenges of Covid-19 directly. The fear of transmitting COVID-19 led to months of isolation from my loved ones. This feeling of loneliness contributed to the decline of mental health for me and many of my co-workers. On May 25, 2021, when George was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer over a suspicion of a counterfeit $20 bill my feeling of loneliness grew tremendously. Being an African American man in the united states was now just as dangerous as the virus killing thousands in New York. When the members of my staff came up the idea of protesting for the rights of African Americans, my feeling of loneliness begin to fade. Kneeling on the ground next to coworkers of all different races reminded of the inclusiveness and unity that we all needed in life. This was a moment in a history that will never be forgotten.
Observations and lessons learned and learning during this Pandemic.
As my primary source I decided to choose a picture from the NY Daily News, and it was published on Apr 09, 2020 at 1:17 pm by Gardiner Anderson. I selected this picture, because in my opinion it has the ability to show how badly the Corona virus affected New York city and the entire world. This image documents how there were so many people dying from the Covid-19 virus and how there was not enough space in the morgue to keep the bodies. The situation was so horrible that people were dying alone in the hospitals without their family members in their bed side. Let’s stop for a minute and think how difficult it is to know your family member is in the hospital dying alone, and you cannot go to the hospital and hold their hand for them not to feel alone while they take their last breath. This was never seen before, at least not in the United States. Historians will have the chance to see how Covid-19 did not just affect the economical part of my community and the entire world, but how it also affected the people in a psychological level. While a lot of people was died during Covid- 19. A lot of people lost their jobs, and they did not have money to buy food. Also, a lot of people did not have money to pay their rental or bills. While this people were going through a financial crisis, maybe member of their family was in the morgue or hospital or maybe they were in quarantine because they had Covid-19.
What it means for this picture to be in the newspapers is how big was the impact of Covid-19. It shows how bad the situation was at the moment. Millions of hospitals did not have space in the morgue. Therefore, it connects to the picture because it shows how they had to deposit the corpses in the refrigerated trucks. I selected this source because I want historians of the future to understand what was going on at the time. The readers are going have the chance to see with their own eyes what was going on at the time. They can see how horrible the virus was. In other words, this picture will explain and demonstrate what was going on at the time.
For me to see this image during the pandemic was very hard and traumatizing because I felt so bad to see how they deposited corpses in the trucks. When I saw this image, I thought about my father and my friend because they had Covid-19, and they were in the hospital. I was nervous because I did not know what was going on with them if they were going to die or survive. At the same time, I was nervous because the economy was falling, and my family and others were being affected. My family was forced to reduce the amount of food we were eating. While my father and friend were at the hospital and my sister and brother were not working. Just my mother and me were working. We needed to pay the rent, buy food, and pay bills while my sister and brother were waiting for unemployment. My mother and I were forced to continue working during the pandemic to support our family. Every time I went to work, I was extremely scared about getting the virus and getting my family sick, especially my sister was pregnant at the moment. In the other hand I was worried about my father and friend who were fighting to survive Covid-19. Sadly, my friend died, but my father survived, and I am grateful he was able to survive this horrible virus. I just do not want to focus on how my family was affected, but how this virus affected the entire world. A lot of people died, some people did not have enough money and were waiting for unemployment, other were not even able to get unemployment and other people were not able to visit their family members who were sick in the hospital. This pandemic was catastrophic.
As my primary source I chose a picture that I took on March 17, 2021 at 8:39pm, it was the end of my shift in my retail job. This picture was taken one year later since they first closed down the city. I work in Macy’s Inc. at Bay Plaza, and the store was closed during the pandemic until the end of June. When the store first reopened, big crowds of people came to the store every single day without caring about the pandemic. It is understandable that all they wanted was to shop, and also get out of their houses to distract themselves. This picture is just a small representation of what retail workers have to deal with during times like this. It got to a point, where it was very frustrating seen so many people at the store walking around trying to shop. Many people did not care about the 6ft social distancing, and others did not want to wear a mask because it was too hot, or they couldn’t breathe.
There was a limit of 600 people in the whole store, but in days like this I know for sure that it was more than that. The women shoes department was always full of people, there was always a long line, people were right next to each other, and others were screaming or talking too loudly. People were getting into arguments with each other, many were getting frustrated because they wanted to get a shoe size right away. Others were just sitting on the couch sleeping, you could hear babies crying, and kids running or playing around dropping shoes on the floor. I remember I was in the register during my whole shift taking customer after customer, some were really nice but others very rude. As my job, I have to ask every customer if they want to open a Macy’s credit card with us, but their answer was always, “I can’t afford it, this virus has made me broke” yet, they were still out shopping. On this day, I had a disagreement with a customer because I told her to put her mask on about 3 times, and she just ignored me. She then, approaches me to pay for a shirt, and I told her very kindly once again, “can you please put your mask on? Thank you!”. Her reaction was priceless because she was furious and asked me if it wasn’t enough with the plexiglass that was between us, I felt very frustrated because she didn’t seem to understand how serious this virus is. I told her no, and refuse to ring her out she then, proceeded to another register very furious and still with no mask on.
We are not essential workers but working in a retail store during this pandemic has been very overwhelming. The company benefits from all of this because they reach their sales goals every day. When I think about it, we as employees should be happy that there are sales because it means the store won’t close down, and we can keep our jobs. The customers do not seem to have any type of consideration for any of us as retail workers. It upsets me because now more than ever, everyone should be thankful for still being alive after what we just went through this whole year. We need to appreciate each other, and respect one another because we don’t know what everyone is going through. Always be kind to everyone!
Quarantine was a hard time on us all; it hit most of us out of nowhere and left us locked inside our homes for what an eternity and for most people, they had to spend that time alone. I did not go out a lot during this time so I went online and chose the pictures that I believe best represent what mine and many others felt their quarantine was like. Jose’ Manuel Ballester, a Spanish artist recreated iconic historical paintings and removed the most pivotal part in each of them; the people. Dubbed “Hidden Spaces”, Ballester recreates a series of works in which he is able to present an angle of how the world is like during quarantine. Iconic masterpieces like the Last Supper is left to just an empty table. Ballester is able to show the loneliness and emptiness that quarantine has left people in, by removing the people from the paintings Ballester thus leaving the audience with a certain feeling of discomfort reminiscent of the lack of company and interaction leaves us feeling when we are quarantined and I really resonated with these photos because that is how I felt during this quarantine.
I participate in youth programs to get my voice heard.
For my primary source, I selected a video/ photo that shows my discord community watching a movie together. As for the movie we were watching Justice League Snyder Cut. A movie that caused a lot of problems and controversy back in 2017. Due to Zack Snyder having to step down from the movie and Joss Whedon not a lot of people liked Whedon version. Years later Snyder released his version on HBO MAX. I created the discord server due to the COVID-19 pandemic when it started. The community has over 300 members from all over the world. With discord friends can connect directly through many ways such as voice call, video call, or text on Discord, and they can also enter servers where wider groups can connect.
Discord is free to download and use just like you would use zoom or skype, but it has more to offer. Discord for me is a home. Discord allows you to establish your own sense of belonging. A discord server is your personal space, shared only with the individuals you want to invite. When I created my community on discord it was so bring people together. I started with around 10 or so friends. Anyone who joined with in the discord and wanted to invite a friend or a family member was welcomed to due so. It felt like every day we would get more and more people from all over the U.S, the UK, South America, and many places. Within my discord we help people with Homework, assignments, we host game nights as well as movies night and if some need to talk we always have people on to connect and talk to if they want someone to just listen. AS well we have text channels for memes, a place to introduce yourself when people join for everyone to read. Common games that people play and want to talk about or even just chill with some music together.
With my discord community I decided to make the community because I had some free time on with school and with not working, I wanted a way to connect with my friends and family while still being under lockdown. Discord seems the best option. Anyone can connect via phone, laptop, or any web browser. I honestly did not think it would last this long or even grow this big. But then again, we did not think about that with covid-19 we thought the lock down was going to be two weeks, four weeks tops.
For my primary source I selected a picture of a daycare. This daycare is where my kids used to go. Before the pandemic started, I used to take them there because I have to go to work. One of them was 7 months old and the other one was 5 years old. I used to take them to the daycare six days a week except Sunday, then go to work and when I finish working, pick them up in the daycare around 5pm.
I selected this source because I want Historians of the future to know how the pandemic hit ‘’daycares’’. This photograph was before the pandemic. I took it in the daycare in a birthday party that we did for my son. There is the babysitter, her assistant and other kids that used to go to the day care.
I feel Historians will learn how difficult was the life for mothers who have to go to work and leave their kids in daycare and what happened to me when the day care was closed.
Everything was normal until I heard about COVID 19.I have been working in a hospital and in march 15 2020 my Babysitter told me that in 3 days the daycare was going to close for undefined time because of the covid 19.I was scared to go to work because I did not want that nothing happened to my kids. I had to go to work in the hospital, but I did not want to because I know that I was going to be more exposed to the virus and I may bring it to my kids. But the other reason was that I don’t have nobody to take care of my kids after they close the daycare. In addition, my Babysitter also told me that she was desperate because she was not making money in the daycare.
I decided to stay at home with my kids. I remember that the school also was closed. But I was not getting pay when I stay at home. It was a very difficult time for me because I had bills to pay, including the rent. I was feeling bad because I have some savings, but 2 months after march I realized that I did not have money to pay the rent. I realized that I need to go back to work, even thought I was thinking that I was going to be on risk to get the COVID, I found somebody to watch my kids and then I went back to work. I pray God for protection every day, in the bus, streets and the train.
In august the daycare opened again, the Babysitter was happy because she was going to work again, but I was scared because I did not know if anybody in the day care could be sick and get my kids sick. I have to take my kids to the daycare, but it was not like before that Babysitter had many kids in the daycare, only my two kids were in the daycare.
Today, my son is back to school and the other one is still going to the day care, but every day I pray for theme because I know that other kids are with them, and I don’t know who may be sick and they are always on risk, but I don’t have other choice because I need to work to get money to pay my bills as I say before. When I arrived home, I leave my shoes on the front door, go straight to wash my hands, take clothes of, take a shower and them pick them up in the daycare. Every day my kids are on risk, but I am also on risk at work. The situation is difficult, but we have to continue our lives, be wise and do our best to keep our family safe all times.
The horrific and inhumane death of George Floyd was the absolute last straw for many people. His death caused such an uprising that no one was prepared for. Floyd’s death caused thousands of people across the country to protest and literally fight for their lives. Citizens began a peaceful protest which turned into violent protests which resulted in the burning and looting of the city of Minneapolis. This protest turned violent because even after the negative image the police had in the country’s eyes, they still proceeded to injure Americans, using rubber bullets and tear gas during these protests.
I chose this picture because it is very impactful to me as a Black man in America it is terrifying and sad. The way police treat Black men such as myself is beyond scary and traumatizing. There are no words to describe how it feels to walk around as a man with brown skin. In the photo I selected, there are two police officers beating on a Black man while he is down on the ground. It baffles my mind how even after an individual is down, disarmed, and disables, police officers will continue to apply unnecessary force to the individual. The death of George Floyd and the events that took place after is a monumental event in history. People need to know how America, came together despite race and differences and protested to enforce the Black Lives Matter Movement. So many different groups of people put their differences aside and came together to protest the safety of Black people.
It is important that police violence is captured not only for the justice of the individual who was hurt, but as a part of history. The police brutality and Black Lives Matter movement is very important part of history. This is a movement that brought together many individuals of different race, class, and beliefs to support the end the abuse of Black citizens of America. I chose this picture which occurred in Buffalo NY, officer decided to beat down a 75 year old man who was peacefully protesting. The idea of police who are supposed to serve and protect are beating an elderly man, imagine what they would do to a young man as myself. I’m glad these cruel acts of violence are now being captured and people are receiving the justice they deserve. It is also important for people to see these events as a part of history.
When the pandemic began I would never forget how violently people reacted. Every time I stopped by a grocery store , supermarket or any store the lines were all the way to the back of the store and the lines outside of the store were incredibly long; all you could think about was how long you’d be standing outside and when it was your turn to go in would you even walk out with what you needed.
In march of 2020 there was a brawl in Australia over toilet paper. I saw this video going viral on all social media platforms. Three women were recorded fighting in Sydney . Police were called to the scene when they received multiple calls that a woman had been assaulted. The lady had a shopping cart filled with packs of toilet paper leaving the rack empty so another lady grabbed one from her cart and that’s when the fight started . In the video footage you hear “ I just wanted one packet ”. It was heartbreaking seeing people be inconsiderate and violent over necessities . Many stores were experiencing shortages on toilet paper, Lysol, disinfecting wipes, alcohol, hand sanitizer and more.
It was like you hit the jackpot when you were able to get your hands on those things . Supermarkets were also experiencing shortage in water and meats , the shelves in supermarkets located by me were completely empty at one point. I barely found good meat or packs of water when I needed to go food shopping. I felt like I had won the lottery when I did find what I was looking for . This pandemic has taught me that people will turn against each other if they have to. Instead of coming together as a community and helping each other out I saw very few good Samaritans give away essential supplies to those in need during this pandemic.
For my primary source, I selected a photograph I took of the gate house area in LaGuardia Airport in mid March of 2020. In the picture it shows several employees, sitting around doing nothing at all, the whole airport was a “ghost town”, meaning there were no passengers to assist with there tickets and gate claims, or any questions in general. During this time we were all nervous, not just nervous about COVID-19 and from the horrific scenes in the news, but also as an 11 year veteran in the airline industry, our jobs were on the line because of the decrease in flying, fear of flying, and the travel restrictions of no flying. With the airline burning 35 million dollars a day how can they pay 80,000 employees system wide I told myself. The airline soon told us system wide that it’s recommended we take a leave of absence at least a year with no pay to save the company or else there would be cuts, not including the 25% cut in our salary we took already.
All week I was on the phone with my work partner talking everyday trying to figure what’s the plan. All these thoughts came racing three my head. What are we going to do? Do you think we will be fired or let go since we have seniority? Why I didn’t finish college 13 years ago and became lawyer or something. My job made us an offer, hey said take the year off with no pay, and your still have flying benefits for you and your family as always, and you will still have full medical benefits and we will pay your medical as well. After talking with my family, my fiancé, my partner from work, I decided on March 26th 2020, I was going to take the leave of absence. A whole year later April 26th of 2021 I finally came back to work full time, and the airport passenger count is starting to increase.
The reason why I seated this primary source is because I would like historians to know the insides that us airline employees faced during these challenging times. I know many airline companies asked Congress for help in payroll support for the employees which majority of them did get including us, but we never saw that payroll support, nor did they call us back Early to work since they got some kind of support from the government, instead that money went in the stock market, and for bonuses to the CEO, and managers in the company. While I am happy and very fortunate to be back at work, it was very challenging as I’m sure it was for everyone, but one good thing that came out of it, 13 years later, a year ago from today. I was able to join the family of bronx community college, and focus on my education while I was off.
Throughout medical history vaccinations have been imperative in order to fight diseases and viruses. As a child these vaccinations start at two months and tend to continue through our lives. Most vaccines are mandatory but there are some that are voluntary which leaves us contemplating our decision. The contemplation on getting a vaccine is why I chose a picture of my COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card to be submitted as my primary source. When COVID first hit the United States, we weren’t really prepared for the devastation that it brought right along with it. When I first heard about COVID it still hadn’t reached the United States and that was around January but then around March New York started going into lockdown. The lockdown period was pretty difficult to deal with as the way of life completely changed. Mentally, emotionally and physically it took a toll on me. As a person that was barely at home because of school and work the lock down caused great anxiety. From the moment the world heard about the first case it went into creating a vaccine that could prevent the number of cases of deaths and hospitalizations from increasing.
As pharmaceutical companies started the research to create a vaccine, I was pretty skeptical about it. I was refusing to get the vaccine if they succeeded in creating it because there was just so much doubt going through my head. I was unsure what the vaccine contained and if it would work in the prevention of catching COVID. But long behold a vaccine was created but of course there were so many side effects that came with the shot. With everything that was going wrong with the vaccine during the experimentation period it just strengthened my decision to decline the shot. My views started to change once I started to hear that many people weren’t getting any symptoms from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. These vaccines required the person to receive two doses in order to be “immune” to COVID. Another reason that caused me to change my views on receiving the shot was the fact that I wanted to travel, and the government was requiring a vaccination passport in order to do so. The first dose of vaccines was only available to the elderly and to the healthcare workers who were risking their lives coming into contact with COVID patients. Then they started extending the qualifications needed for someone to receive the shot which included: preexisting conditions, obesity, high risk conditions, and many other qualifications. These are just of the few qualifications that was asked for in order for someone to be eligible to receive a vaccination.
Because I have a preexisting condition, I was eligible to receive the COVID 19 vaccine. It was pretty difficult trying to get an appointment due to the high volume of people who wanted to receive the shot. After multiple attempts in trying to secure my appointment, I succeed with Walmart. I received my first Moderna vaccination on March 12, 2021 and my second vaccination on April 23, 2021. I was content on receiving the Moderna vaccine because it wasn’t recalled for causing health problems like the rest of the vaccinations from other pharmaceutical companies were causing. After a few hours of receiving my first shot I started to feel dizzy and very lightheaded to the point that I couldn’t drive at work. With the second shot my symptoms were: dizziness, fever, body aches, chills, change of smell and taste and nausea. The second shot was stronger than the first one but I’m glad that those were the only symptoms I experienced. But the one thing that both shots had in common after receiving them was the soreness of the arm for multiple days. Now that is has been almost a month that I received my second shot almost all the symptoms have vanished except for my change of smell and taste. Because the shot as altered my sense of smell and taste it has made it unbearable for me to smell or eat meat but I’m hoping that it will subside soon.
The decision on receiving the COVID 19 vaccine is a daunting one to make as there can be many factors that can influence you. I received the vaccine as a precaution to myself and others. I also took it in order to travel and not worry about being prevented from boarding a flight because I can’t provide proof of the vaccination record card. I think this new vaccine is going to be a lot like the Flu shot as it comes in seasons and its up to the person to decide whether or not they’re going to get it. I’m just happy that the government hasn’t made it mandatory because there is still a lot of people who are pretty skeptical about it. The decision of our life is in a needle.
I chose this photo because of the differences between a before and after the pandemic. I took the first photo from Google, from an article titled "What Keeps People Coming Back to a Restaurant?" (Carol Lin Vieira) because I do not have an old one where access to eat was allowed, since for me it was common. The second photo was taken at my current job, it is located at 2065 Jerome Ave, Bronx, NY 10453.
Before the pandemic started, we could go out and share with our families and friends, we could order food and eat in the restaurant, hang out, have fun and laugh, no need to be making reservations all the time. The pandemic changed our lives in a whole new way. Before we could be in groups and go to the park without the need to worry about whether other people could infect us. We had so much more fun because we didn't have to worry about whether restaurants would be open or not, whether we could go out and eat quietly away from home. During the pandemic, we can no longer do these kinds of things because we are separated. This is something sad, not being able to see your friends or family for fear of infecting us or infecting the people we love. Not being able to shake hands, give hugs, kisses on the face or share our food with other people. It makes me nostalgic to see how in my work the tables are empty and it is forbidden to eat, to remember how the restaurant was full with many people who laughed and told how their day, shared stories or dated someone. It is hard to listen to the sad voices of the customers when they ask when they can go eat. As I mentioned earlier, COVID-19 left many losses and many broken hearts along the way, it is a disease in which it showed us the value that each person has. Sometimes as teenagers we do not realize what we have, I chose this photo as an example of how little we valued the little things before and now we really need it. A single walk without a mask, sitting in large groups with your family in a restaurant, being next to someone who has already died due to this disease, among many other details. I think everything happens for a reason and from something so negative we learned something positive, we learned to appreciate the little things in life, to be more united with the family and to love more every day.
For my primary source, I selected a photograph that my cousin from coney island sent me to join her to protest. The protest was on July 15, 2021, from 1 pm to 5 pm. The march’s purpose was in the memory of the African Americans that were murder by police brutality. The protest was a peaceful demonstration where the community complained that the problem is getting bigger every day. Therefore, the government needed to corporate to diminish the violence and racism toward black people. The march has two purposes the first one to protest that black lives matter and that it was not okay to kill somebody because of their skin color, and it was also to complain about police use of force towards minorities. 2020 was a year where many innocent people were killed, for example, Rashard brooks, Daniel Prude, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor. Those victims were not just killed by the police but were killed being innocent and doing ordinary people stuff which makes us think that the problem comes from police racism.
I wanted to assist in the protest, but my father said straight up no because of covid 19 pandemic was at its worse moment, and the crowding is was going to be an easy way to catch the virus. I kept insisting until I got permission to go. I took three trains to get to my cousin’s house. First, I took train A to Columbus circle, then train D to the new york aquarium, and last train Q to ocean parkway where my cousin was waiting for me, and we went to the protest. It was not a big protest because most people who assist were people from the area, but it was peaceful. They were all screaming, “not justice, no peace.” the environment did no felt uncomfortable because they were energetic and getting the anger out by marching for the victims. The police of coney island and Brighton beach were present, ensuring that people maintain order and supporting the march. The social distancing was followed, and all the participants were wearing a mask. I felt good because I did not participate in the protest in my area, but I was present in other parts of the state.
I selected this source because I want historians of the future to analyze that the country was active and acting against the problem. Racism is a global problem. It can be controlled if we unify and try to make others conscious that it is not okay to judge somebody else because of the way they look or their nationality. The communities were getting together to announce that they needed our support to solve the problem and eliminate conflicts with people equal like us but with a tiny skin color difference. Racism is so intense that people need to go outside in the middle of a pandemic to protest and moderate the issue. We were exposed to the virus because the violence toward minorities is increasing in the country. It looks like the only way it can be moderate is by going outside to show the dominant group that we have a voice.
Primary Source Essay
The primary source I’m using for this project is a picture of my family on a zoom call celebrating my father’s birthday on march 12, 2020. This is how my family and myself had to gather together to actually spend some time since the virus started. Our family is a very united family, we are very close and before COVID-19 started we used to get together in somebody’s house and just cook and dance and talk, and enjoy every second of it but everything changed when the virus started it was spreading too fast, and everybody was scared.
I remember how my mom was always watching the news and you could see all the videos of all those people that died in Queens and they had so many bodies that they didn't have a place to put them. Funeral homes were full and all I could think was about those families who lost a loved one and how some people were thinking that COVID was fake.
The first time we use zoom was to celebrate my father’s birthday, it was something new and not something like we usually do but at least we got to see some of our family members. We were always home since we stopped working because of the pandemic. We used to work for a medical transportation company so we were “Essentials Workers”, we transport people to get dialysis treatment 3 times a week and after the virus started to get stronger we had to stop working because almost every patient we transported died of COVID-19 before the wave of summer even started. Sadly the COVID ended the life of two members in my family, at the end of June we got the news that one of my aunts was at the hospital on life support, three weeks later one of my uncle was in the same situation. We couldn't see them or say goodbye, everything just happened so fast that we were in shock and this is how we started our “Weekly zoom meetings”.
The reason why I selected this source is because I want to show historians of the future how families use to communicate in a group without getting together. We used this tool to so much that we had an schedule, every Friday we had a zoom meeting to just talk about our week. To talk about our different point of view of the pandemic and not only that but all of the events that happened last year, like the protest that started shortly after George Floyd was killed, and the election in November but most importantly those zoom meetings was just to make sure that everybody was good and to support each other since some of my family members were still working outside. Crazy how everything started last year and now we have a vaccine and hopefully everything will go back to normal in no time but for now we need to live with the memory of what started in the year 2020 that affected the whole world.
For my primary source, I selected an essay that was written by me my first semester in my Psychology class. I don’t exactly know the date it was made or submitted, there were question we were supposed to respond in our own way but it’s not able to be provided anymore. But we wrote it as a final in order to express the way we felt during the pandemic, also to see how our mental and our physical changes during this rough time. My professor which was called Dr. Marjorie wanted to know everyone’s story in our own words and the different perspectives that came from the students, which she enjoyed doing.
I lived in New York the area of the country hardest hit by the first wave of the pandemic. I was afraid when the outbreak got worse day by day, watching how this changed every human being because no one was prepared for all this chaos that was happening. I didn’t know on March 10 that this outbreak was on campus which is why we couldn’t come back until further notice to protect us from contracting COVID. Seeing the news and watching the death tolls go up by the hour of the amount of people dying in the hospitals and others contracting the virus was horrifying and sad to watch. That’s all they gave on the news which made me paranoid and decided to stop watching it during the entire quarantine. The way I saw how the streets were empty, New York wasn’t the same anymore it looked very dull and sad as if it was the end of the world not seeing anyone outside walking or any cars either. Everything was limited especially in the supermarkets having a limit capacity of people in it, the long lines were unbearable. Not being able to go out being of how paranoid I was being around people, I lasted about 1 month and 3 days home without going out only when it was necessary to go out.
I selected this important source because I want historians of the future to understand my situation as a college student living through this pandemic. Having to go from classes in person to virtual classes in a snap of a finger that’s when my frustration started, not being able to understand anything without seeing the professor to explain it to me. I had to do everything on my own without anyone’s help. Stressing me out completely, which caused drastic changes to me during quarantine. My appetite wasn’t at its best having to do so much work at a time with all my classes especially being a full time student wasn’t easy for me because I never took breaks only when I was called to eat. My body started to fail on me feeling weak, tired, and constant headaches. That’s when it all went downhill my anxiety started to crawl up on me, I didn’t know how to control it anymore because coping with it was difficult having all of these constant breakdowns, feeling tight to the chest and shaking as if I was nervous. I’ll have all that through the stress and overthinking it caused because I didn’t want to feel like a failure. Putting pressure on myself caused lots of harm which had consequences to it later on. Then I started to lose weight, not being able to wake up the same anymore as if I had no energy to do anything throughout the day. I was afraid of having a panic/anxiety attack which were the worse. I endured depression along the way as well, I started to get sick out of nowhere without having anything. The pandemic really messed me up mentally.
A video of the riots that took place in Fordham Road during summer of 2020.
For my primary sources I chose pictures that I took with my friend and family through covid pandemic and my first trip to my country which is Dominican Republic at July 4, 2020, and it did not feel the same because some people were afraid of hug me, talk to me and even I could see them put their mask on when they saw me coming to their way and I do not really blame them because even i was afraid to hug my significant ones because I know that the time we were going through it was a lot for them, I am not going to lie, I was scared to go out because everytime that I watched the news just I heard that millions people died from Covid and that did not give comfort to go out because I did not want to get my family and friends sick. At july 20th I traveled for first time in the pandemic and it did not feel great because the looks that people used to give me when I cough or sneeze it was like if I came from another place, I did not enjoy this vacation the wanted because I could not see the people i wanted to see and the people I saw were scared of me because of Covid.
I selected this source because I want to show the historians in the future the struggles and the loss that many people had in 2020 because of Covid, for example the students had to take classes from their home which is basically teaching ourselves, people lost their jobs because the economic went down and there was not enough budget to pay the employers because the Country was not prepared for this situation, and that many people lost members of their family, this was a difficult time for all of us.
Getting my Covid vaccine.
I selected primary sources on my personal experience of the covid-19 pandemic as an essential worker. I was employed by Autozone which was qualified to be essential to the public and for that time period where majority of my friends where at home quarantined, I was constantly at work due to the fact that many of my fellow co-workers at the time either caught covid or had a medical excuse to stay home. Life as an essential worker was very hard at the time because I had to take care of my health as much as I could so I wouldn't impact the people who lived at home. At the time I lived at home with my mother and my pregnant sister so I took extra precautions every day whether it was wearing two masks at work, constantly washing my hands and trying everything possible to stay healthy just so I wouldn't impact anyone at home.
Working almost 6 days a week and going to school remotely was hard but I made an agreement with my professors at the time to make exceptions regarding classes because I explained due to the pandemic I was essential and I was required to work more due to the lack of workers. Life during this pandemic was interesting being stopped by the cops after curfew cause we closed a little later then we were supposed to and just being no traffic out on the road going home from work. I legitimately had to work 6 days a week and be tired constantly while hearing my friends say they were tired of being home.
I Submitted a meme I had on my phone my older sister had sent me as a joke because while she was working from home, I had to go out and work. The meme was funny to me and I felt it was perfect for this project because as a Full time student during the pandemic I was working full time. I always would brag about working during the pandemic and doing school work because the majority of my friends were doing bad in school and I was able to keep up with both.
Dealing with Covid at work has been the worst thing that has happened to me. I was at work and had just found out that one of my close co-workers had tested positive for Covid. I was shock. Everyone at my job was scared but in honest truth I was just relax because I knew I didn't have it. Thought wrong. A week after I started to feel a little light headed but I figured it was normal. I had went to go get tested just in case and believe it or not my test came back Positive as well.
For my primary source, I selected a screenshot of me and my mom while we talked through Facetime. In this facetime we were in the same house but unable to see each other in person since she was infected with the covid-19 virus. Apparently, my mother became ill with covid-19 while celebrating the end of 2020 with close relatives, they were around 6 members of my family and they decided to go celebrate that day since they had not seen each other for a long time. That day I was working at night and cannot go to the party. Well, on the first of January I couldn't go to my house either since my co-workers called out and I had to do a double shift. I left the first of January around 3:00 pm from my work, before arriving at my house my mother called me and told me that she was not feeling well and that she believed that she was infected with covid because she had all the symptoms related to this virus. She went to do the test so I went to my girlfriend's house to wait for my mother to call me to confirm what we already suspected, around 5:00 pm she called me to tell me that she, my aunt and my cousin were positive .
We could not leave our house for 16 days and only seeing each other through Facetime. I remember we took turns using the kitchen or leaving our rooms. To use the bathroom, we each entered with a Lysol to disinfect before and after using it. We used gloves and a mask when we left our rooms, so that I would not get infected. Today, 5 months later, my mother is still suffering the consequences of being infected, she gets tired when she walks for a long time and is in training since she has bacteria in the lungs as a result of covid-19.
I decided to select this screenshot as my source because it represents what many people went through during the pandemic. Family that lasted months without seeing each other when before the pandemic they saw each other every day and grandparents without knowing their newborn grandchildren were some of the scenes that we could see during the pandemic. I am the only son of my mother and we have a remarkably close relationship. Never in our lives would we have lasted so long without seeing each other in person and without having hugged each other, it was very painful.
I took this picture on May 29, 2020, at 10:35 am. Why I choose this picture? This picture reflected my feeling in 2020. After months without going outside, I was heading to Staten Island to visit my aunt. I remember that I had anxiety even to open the door of my apartment. Whenever I went outside, it was close to my apartment, and my skin started to itch for no reason. My family used to watch the news the whole day. I was tired of listening to the report.
Besides, during COVID-19, I was having an awful time. A few months ago, one of my friends died, and It was depressing for me. Before she died, I let my ego break the relationship between us. I refused to call her or text her because I was tired of looking after her. I remember my father told me to call her because I did not know what was happening with her. I ignored him. Riding to Staten Island that morning made me remember the hard time that I was going through.
The day that I went to Staten Island, it was cloudy and dark. I thought that the ferry would sink into the water. When I got to Staten Island, it started to rain, and I did not bring an umbrella. I was mad, but it was my fault for not checking the weather. I compare that dark and desperate day with the mourning of my friend and the pandemic. For months, I felt guilty and thought that I did not deserve anything good in my life. The worst of all of this is that I did not have anybody to talk to. I was in quarantine for months, and it affected my mental health. I had no desire to continue college and my business. I used to cry a lot, and all I wanted was to talk to someone about how the pandemic and the death of my friend affected me. I had desired to go to the Dominican Republic, but I could not go.
I think that this source can help historians because they can get to know about different perspectives of people during the COVID-19 pandemic. They would notice the anxiety that not only I went through, but everybody around the world had been through. My neighborhood was affected significantly. Some of my neighbors got COVID and died from it. I know that many people saw themselves as the picture. They thought that everything around them was going to end. They thought that they would be stuck in the pandemic forever.
The beginning of 2020 was as any other year with dancing and drinking to wash away the old with the expectations for another beginning. Much to our dismay that we would be carrying on a bad dream simultaneously. A year unafraid, no bias, everything began in Spring with the information on an incredible mutated infection, which caused a lot of causalities, and an uprising dread that detained us in our homes. Startlingly, exactly when I figured things couldn't deteriorate, 2020 threw an inconvenient passing which spiraled into an overall dissent. Holding back to have this nightmare that felt like a dream to be finished, I figured out how to value the smallest things around me.
A father teaching his son about the Corona virus and how to adapt to his New environment.
When the Covid-19 pandemic caused New York City to go into lockdown the second week of March, it never once crossed my mind how large of an impact this shutdown would have in my personal life. In the picture below I show a poem I wrote during the sixth month of quarantine:
My days felt like they were going on a loop. Everyday felt like a continuation of the day before and my mind was tired of it. In my poem I expressed that I felt like a bird that crashes on the windshield of a car, signaling the repetitiveness of my life in my small NYC apartment. I think that this time was one of the most difficult times for my mental health and I tried desperately to find a way of coping. Essentially, this poem represents the mental state I found myself in trying to find different ways to deal with the fact that life had paused abruptly and that nothing was certain anymore.
One of the ways that I found myself doing a lot during this time was sleeping. I began to get worried when one day I woke up at 4pm and felt as if I had woken up at 9am. I knew my sleep schedule was a disaster, but I think that this represents how monotone life felt.
On another hand, I think that the lockdown served as an opportunity to reorganize my priorities and discover new likes and dislikes. Since I had recently changed my major from Biology to English, this time helped me realize how much I enjoy writing and learning about other writers and their work. I never thought I would enjoy my major as much as I am enjoying it, especially since I can dedicate more time on it thanks to the spare time staying at home gives me.
I think that this poem will benefit future historians in their study of the effects the COVID-19 lockdown on people’s mental health. Specifically, historians will be able to be exposed to the anxiety the world felt knowing that there was little we could do to reverse the effects the lockdown was having in our mental stability. Basically, historians will be able to analyze how much the pandemic affected us beyond the physical aspect but the detrimental effects it held against our mental health.
All in all, COVID-19 surely fits the line by Charles Dickens, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.
Dear Historians of the Future,
In 2020, there was a pandemic that occurred known as COVID-19 that made drastic changes in terms of restaurants, traveling internationally, school and work. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to ensure the president you have is not a narcissist or a leader who does not take responsibility for the bad things that happen.
According to the article “Donald Trump owns the Coronavirus,” published on March 9, 2020, by a senior economist Dean Baker, this document explains how COVID impacted the community and what experiences people faced. Reading this article will allow you to understand the ability to have directorship in guiding the country to a better path then shifting it to the left. For instance, the reading states “It is very likely that we will face a recession as people cancel travel plans and are reluctant to go out to restaurants, sporting events and other public places.” Because of Trump, Americans and the people that live in it had to cancel many of their plans as a result of Trump not taking accurate information into consideration. He was mainly focused on putting blame towards China or the democrats, rather than looking for solutions with CDC.
During the pandemic, many people believed Donald Trump was responsible for the Coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. in the article, Baker concludes: “In short, the fact that we are likely facing a serious pandemic, unlike any we have seen in more than a century, is 100 percent Trump’s fault. Because of his vanity and ineptitude, people will die, and many more will get sick.” This article demonstrates how Trump did not care to take action when the pandemic initially began. Because of this, one can say when it comes to having a narcissist president like Trump, leadership plays a role in situations like this for the world.
In conclusion, I chose this source to explain my experience of the pandemic and what challenges people faced. In other words, this article will help you understand how the pandemic had an impact on many people's lives. If president Trump initially took action when he first started receiving news about the COVID, people would still be employed and parents would not have to stay home with their children. The negative aspect of this is some families struggled financially as a result of the pandemic and staying unemployed.
My first mask was given to me by my dad.
Where to even start? 2020, the year where everything and everyone changed forever. 2020 did not just consist of the Covid Virus it consisted of many other threads that harmed everyone’s mental health including students. It was hard for all students during this time but in my perspective College students. This documents faithfully explain 2020 and I will be here to give you future historians a more in depth look at how it really was during these times.
The document I chose not only explains how we went from going in person to virtual but also how it made me feel as a visual learner and as a college student of course. CUNY mentioned we were going to have a “Instructional recess from March 12-18th”, this day I will never forget because I did not know that March 11th was going to be the last day of my two-years of college.
When I received this email on Twitter that CUNY had stated this I was overwhelmed and shocked. The thought of everything being virtual just didn’t seem right to me, although I did have all the access from computers to internet access, it just did not sit right. As a visual learner this was tough for me, this was a moment of you get classwork and you basically have to teach it to yourself, not seeing my professors in person and through a screen was very hard to get used to, the internet sometimes would not work and it would cut off and I would miss most of the important things said during the lesson, it was honestly very difficult, this was not just tough on students, as well as professors having the same issues. This era was honestly tough, but technology really saved a whole year worth of schoolwork. To the historians reading this in a couple of years from now, I, as a person who lived through these times want you to understand the rough time we went through, from masks to face shields to many deaths and virtually going to school.
These were moments in time that no one anticipated. It shaped the future into what it had become, masks may become the new norm, working from home may be allowed for certain jobs and companies, schools just might let people continue to be fully virtual and things may be extremely dependent on technology from now on.
To conclude this 2020 document, though it was a rough year where millions of people died worldwide, I can only be thankful that me and the ones I love are safe and okay. We now know how to take proper precautions in case anything like this happens again, though I don’t wish for a repeat of 2020. The year of 2020 is one for the books and one that will go down in history.
I assume like many New Yorkers, March 13th through 18th was when things really changed. It did for me on the 15th of March 2020 or the ides of March as I like to remember it. My store shut down for what seemed like 2 weeks. Of course, soon I would be given the news we would be shut down completely. I already knew where things were going, at the time I worked at an Asian restaurant, so I was hearing many of the conversations about China then. But I could not have predicted what would happen next. As slow and dreadful as 2020 was, things were moving at lightning speed for the situation we experienced. It felt like every few days something new would arise and test our nation. I selected these pictures because it shows how tired everyone is, the blank faces of people who are following orders, while the other side expresses their hardships all the while wearing masks, the bane of 2020. I want the historian of the future to know that no matter the situation at hand, many of us will still protest for what was wrong even if they got sick. It didn’t matter because we needed to send a message.
The two images that you see in the beginning were taken by my friend, Emilio Lopez, who documented the protests, riots, and clashes between police in the summer of 2020. I did not go to the early protests because of covid and the violence/looting wasn’t the things I wanted to be a part of. I remember face-timing my friend to make sure if he was alright as I did not go with him. What he described to me that was happening in the parts of Fordham, and Union Square areas. Emilio had said many of the protesters were young men who were bored of the lockdowns and needed to do something exciting. There were fires, baton exchanges with the cops, and then the looting started. It all got a little too ugly for the whole week of George Floyd protests in New York. One of my close friend’s stores in Fordham was destroyed as a result.
The images were taken right before things took a violent turn at Union Square. Where many of my friends were tear-gassed and beaten by cops to disperse when the first lockdown was getting implemented. Those two images, I feel like the body language of the subjects conveys how I felt about the lockdowns, the social injustice, in general about 2020. These were the first few weeks of protests that took place in the wake of George Fyold murder. I was shocked and scared when the masses went on to the streets because of the sheer amount while the pandemic was still going on. I hope the historians of the future can understand us even if they have to go through a cluster of memes from this era, real pictures with real human emotions will always speak louder I believe, and that civil rights in this country still have ways to go.
I think we all should take this as an experience to be prepare for the next major event.
I'm submitting a picture of doctors, including my uncle and members of the community gathered outside of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center University Hospital, to celebrate the discharge of a patient who beat Covid-19.
For my primary source, I selected a photograph I took at a protest held in front of the Bronx Community College campus on July 15, 2021. The Professional Staff Union of CUNY (PSC-CUNY), the union for the faculty and much of the staff throughout CUNY, organized the event to protest the BCC administration June 26 decision to lay off 36 experienced adjunct professors at the end of their 3-year contracts, even though that their departments recommended that they be rehired. People in the picture include BCC Faculty, staff, and students, as well as those from as well as people from Hostos Community College, who came to support the BCC community and were facing similar cuts.
The day was very hot, but I was nervous to the subway because of COVID, so I rode my bike from my home (about 24 miles roundtrip). I was pretty sweaty and probably stinky when I arrived. It was the first time I had been to campus since March 10, when, on my way home from school on the subway, I learned CUNY was moving online. (The campus itself was locked, but we stood in front of the gate on University.) It was also the first time I people from school in person since March; I was so happy to talk to them. It was weird to be with a group people, after months of isolation, but we all wore masks and stood six feet apart. Cars honked their support as they drove by.
I selected this source because I want historians of the future to understand how the pandemic hit higher education and the connections among the COVID crisis, social justice movements, and education. Although I went to larger marches after the murder of George Floyd, I believe funding for CUNY is a form of social justice. I was angry that politicians and school administrators were giving lip-service to the phrase Black Live Manners, while cutting funding and jobs from CUNY. BCC’s students are overwhelmingly Black and Latinx, and many studies show that a CUNY education is one of the best schools for supporting social mobility, helping people support themselves and their families. Firing the adjuncts not only meant the teachers lost their income, and, sometimes, their health insurance, but that BCC students would be in larger classes; larger classes mean faculty have less time to devote to each student, which can make it harder to for students to succeed. While I understood enrollment was down and the budget from the city and state would likely be smaller because of the economic toll of the pandemic, I thought there were other places the administration could cut costs. (Such as their own salaries). I want historians to see that the faculty and staff of CUNY fought for what their students deserved and the connections among CUNY, social justice, and New York’s economic recovery. I also want them to see how people approached protests, which require gathering together with other people and often chanting or shouting, while in the middle of a pandemic that required people to stay apart and cover their mouths.
I live in Bronx, New York. When the pandemic struck, it affected everyone tremendously whether you contracted the virus or not. New York is a densely populated place and it immediately required a shut down of all day to day activities due to the soaring virus. It was so impactful that my school had to be closed and I could not go out with my friends on the weekends anymore due to the fact that all business places were closed. Many people in New York contracted the virus which at one point had the highest Coronavirus cases. It made my family and I very depressed to be stuck at home all day and worrying if anyone of us would be the next person to be personally affected by the virus. During the pandemic, which is still current, the introduction of the vaccine made me feel very relieved. Even though it is not a cure for the virus but it would help to fight the virus if you do contract it, and it also lessens the likeliness that it is contracted. This was such good news to my ears. When I found out that there were different types of the vaccines I was very skeptical about it because I wondered to myself about the different component that each might have. Following this, there was word that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine was causing bloodclots. This made me extremely scared to take any of the vaccines overall even though I want to be secured from the virus but I worry that the vaccine would not agree well with my body. This was a mental battle within my family if we want to take the vaccine or not.
Toddlers are natural explorers who run, touch and sniff as they learn about the world. But these behaviors can be dangerous during a pandemic. Parents of toddlers need to weigh the risks of catching Covid against their children’s developmental needs. Lizza Weir, whose daughter Simone was 16 months when Covid first arrived in New York, talks about the hard choices she’s been facing.
When the pandemic first started people were out of control buying food and house supplies. There was a shortage on meat and the price rose up to an unreasonable price. Not only that the people were buying all the toilet paper. Like whom would have thought we will run out of toilet paper.
Ever since the pandemic started, I’ve been spending a lot of time outdoors in parks and public gardens. While outdoors, I often take photographs. Recently I was looking through my photos and noticed that many of the ones taken in March and April 2021 showed masked faces through foliage. Somehow this seemed like a good way to remember Spring 2021.
I struggled with anxiety around the time the news said there was a pandemic going on, and I healed as time went on and the world around me played a part in that.
Jitinder Walia, Executive Director of Bronx Community College’s Early Childhood Center, describes how she and her staff managed to continue educating the children of BCC’s students after the campus had closed. When she first realized the pandemic would cause the Center to end in-person classes, she felt devastated. But she quickly realized that the children and their parents needed the Center’s services during this extremely stressful time. So she and her staff figured out how to provide online lessons for young children and social services for parents without in-person contact.
Jitinder misses hugs from children and face-to-face chats with parents. She’s looking forward to the day when she can hear the sounds of 100+ energetic children in her building. Yet she’s immensely proud of the way her staff has continued the Center’s mission during the pandemic, and she plans to continue some of the online activities created because of Covid.
An anonymous Bronx mother tells the story of her two daughters’ mental health challenges during the pandemic. First, her 21 year old daughter had a Covid-related panic attack in May 2020 that required 4 weeks of hospitalization. This daughter was on the road to recovery when her 24 year old daughter fell into a severe depression in August. The mother describes how this situation affected her entire family and how both daughters returned to mental health even though the pandemic hasn’t ended yet.
In November 2020 I began reading Kirmen Uribe's novel Bilbao New York Bilbao while in Bilbao, Spain with my partner. We were there to care for his father who is suffering through the late stages of dementia and to spend time with his family who he had not seen in a year. Uribe's novel is important to my plague year for many reasons. He talks about the split mind being from Bilbao yet living in New York. My partner is from Bilbao, and the novel helps me understand his mindset. But Uribe also talks about the ways humans remember and carry pain and mark loss. Unlike trees who carry their growth in their rings or fish who mark time through their scales, humans mark time and pain through simply marking time. He notes that fish grow their entire lives, but humans start dying and shrinking from the moment we hit maturity. Growth, it seems is only for the fishes.
My plague year was marked by my entire partner's family getting the virus, a story of gradual family loss, one of borders, and of course a presidential election. The pandemic closed not only schools and bars but also borders and our chances to move between Spain and the U.S. in any straightforward way. When we began planning the trip in the summer of 2020, we came up against all of the travel bans in place. My Spanish partner could get to Spain, but I could not. So, the research began, and I spent more time on Facebook groups than any person should be allowed to. We knew we weren't going to Spain just to have fun. We needed to take care of his father, but it felt like we were doing something wrong. Love, it turns out, knows no national borders, but border agencies certainly do. To get to Spain, he just hopped a plane to Madrid. I had to go through Lisbon, London, and Paris before arriving there. On the way back, I hopped on a plane flying directly to New York. He had to quarantine in Mexico for two weeks.
Our stay there was marked by his father's continued decline but also moments of joy. The picture here captures one of those. As a U.S. citizen, his Spanish family and friends are always asking me about U.S. culture and practices. One of my tasks in Spain was to cook a big American Thanksgiving dinner, which I did with gusto. I made all the things: turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pecan pie. I tried to explain the significance of each dish while realizing how insignificant and somewhat gross Thanksgiving foods are. But we had fun and spent the night after the meal singing "American" songs and discussing art--his cousins are all artists.
That night, one of his friends recommended I read Uribe's novel. So, I ordered it that night. It is a lonely book of loss and thinking about how art marks that loss. I think that is how we marked our time in Spain contemplating everything we had lost in 2020 and everything we were gradually losing. We spent time at the Guggenheim and Fine Arts museums in Bilbao. In fact, we waited for my partner's COVID test while browsing the Fine Arts Museum. It turned out positive, and we separated at the point for two weeks.
But the picture here represents a moment of joy as we said goodnight to my partner's cousins after the Thanksgiving weekend. I hope for all the clichés of going back to normalcy. And we probably will get back to the "before times" given humans' inability to learn from any of their experiences. But I am one of those humans and just want to sit at a bar and talk to strangers again.
When that normalcy returns, I will look back at this picture and remember Uribe's words: "As with the growth rings of fishes, terrible events stay on in our memory, mark our life, until they become a measure of time. Happy days go fast, on the other hand--too fast--and we forget them quickly." Maybe Uribe is wrong, though. I will not be forgetting this day anytime soon.
We have preserved in this short film a selection of Theatre Workshop students' authentic experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and we want to share these stories with you.
During the pandemic, I often walk in Brooklyn's historic Green-Wood Cemetery with its rolling hills, lovely views, and fantastic old monuments; it's also where my grandparents are buried. I've always loved the beautiful, timeless melancholy of the place, but during the pandemic, it was also a strange comfort to read the headstones and think of the people buried all around me. Life, sickness, crisis, death are all just part of being human. These dead humans also lived, suffered, died, and now it's just another version of the same thing. The self-portrait included here is based on a photo I took of myself in Green-Wood as I wandered there one day in April 2020, looking to get away from lockdown and to find company among the graves.
Early in the pandemic, a man I knew died of Covid-19 in an overwhelmed hospital. I kept thinking he might not have died if the hospital had been better funded. Then I remembered he had once insisted to me that he lived outside society. I saw a sad connection: hospitals and public health in general were underfunded because too many people felt they did not share a common society with others. More thoughts about Covid and community started flooding my mind. Eventually I pulled these thoughts together in a short essay.