Reflecting Back on 2020

Reflecting Back on 2020

Elida Vargas, FPU Student, Junior Class – Psychology Major

Reflecting back on the year 2020 can be overwhelming, heartbreaking, and mind-boggling. Where can one even begin? It was a year of anxiety, isolation, uncertainty, injustice, and fear. The year started with the COVID-19 pandemic, which shifted the ways we went about our daily lives. While some schools, churches, and restaurants were able adjust to the times by using online tools, other places like small businesses were forced to close. The way we socialized was completely changed.

On top of dealing with the pandemic, we saw a number of social injustices spark outrage online. The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless of other victims of police brutality further ignited the rage people felt. Additionally, this awakened the rage in other people after they recognized the systemic racism built in the United States.

There have been some improvements in terms of diversity, inclusion, social justice, racial equity. Social media, such as Instagram, and Twitter, etc., have played a role in the impact on these improvements. Now more than ever, there are more people speaking out about these social injustices. There are so many individuals, from well-known celebrities to everyday people, using their platforms to spread knowledge on systemic racism, while there are others amplifying the voices of the minorities affected. Moreover, social media has brought people together in order to plan protests all across the country.

Fresno Pacific University’s (FPU) students also have come together to organize supportive clubs that promote inclusivity, diversity, and racial equity such as the Black Student Union, Latinx Student Union, and Athletes of Color Allegiance. Although Fresno Pacific University has a long way to go, this is a step into providing a safe space for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students and starting important conversations about racial equity.

Unfortunately, there have been problems that have risen because of this activism. While there are countless of people trying to fight for social justice, inclusion, and racial equity, there are others who fail to see this as a problem. Consequently, further discrimination has taken place. For instance, there have been attempts to criminalize the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and victims of police brutality. Ultimately, it is these actions caused by people, whether knowingly or not, who are trying to uphold white supremacy. This issue directly affects members of Fresno Pacific University’s community. At the start of the Black Student Union Club, there was a racist incident that occurred online. The sign-up sheet for the club was terrorized with racial slurs and comments. Additionally, the Latinx Student Union also has dealt with racist comments on their Instagram page.

Fresno Pacific University students have asked their university to show their support time after time. Yet, there are many students who feel a lack of support. What Fresno Pacific University members can do in response to these matters is to actively show they are anti-racist. Universities are uniquely positioned to spark change and conversations considering they have the power to dismantle the system. These types of conversations should be held everywhere because it is a national issue that affects everyone. The university’s staff members must pave the way for discussion; however, it will take some accountability, courage, self-reflection, and vulnerability to do so. It is imperative to note that the conversations held about racial equity are not a shame and blame game. Rather, such conversations are about providing accountability and using that to uproot discriminatory practices within our own institution.

Student bio: My name is Elida Vargas De Leon. I am currently a junior at Fresno Pacific University majoring in psychology. Aside from being a student, I work as a behavior therapist with children that have Autism Spectrum Disorder. A few things I enjoy are working out, reading, and spending time with my loved ones, especially my dogs. I have a passion for helping others and allowing them to be seen and understood; I plan to pursue my doctorate degree in clinical psychology after I graduate.

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