Some Thoughts on the Dumpster Fire That is 2020

It’s been almost a year since the words “coronavirus pandemic” entered our daily lexicon. The realities of that alone have been life altering– and it’s not even the only thing we’re dealing with right now. This year the US has seen over 200,000 deaths from Covid-19; continued killings of unarmed Black men and women; widespread racial justice protests; and the deaths of some of America’s greatest inspirations across all fields (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Lewis, Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant, and John Prine, among others).

As the news around us continues to evolve, Southpaw has been collaborating with our colleagues at Zebra Strategies and Gazelle Global on periodic surveys to get a pulse on how Americans are reacting to current events. In a year where every week feels like a month, our priorities and concerns are evolving constantly.

In our June survey (conducted in the wake of George’s Floyd’s murder), 53% of white Americans and 36% of Black Americans said the pandemic was the most important issue to them at that time (50% of Black Americans and 9% of white Americans said Black Lives Matter was most important, while 24% of white Americans and 7% of Black Americans said the election was).

By September, concerns were rising: 69% of Black and 56% of white Americans said they had become more concerned about the pandemic in the last 3 months. Black Americans were more likely than white Americans to say their level of concern about racial injustice (75% vs. 49%) and voting access (52% vs 42%) had increased in the past 3 months

Back in June, 70% of Black and 64% of white people believed the pandemic is exposing a lot of truths about our society. Three months later, this has ticked up a bit: 73% of Black and 72% of white Americans say the same.

Sometimes it may seem like the bad news never ends, but not all hope is lost. Our September study found that 42% of Black Americans and 41% of white Americans believe some good might come of the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. James Baldwin famously wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Let’s hope that as we all continue to face so much, things will change for the better.

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