DiverseCity: So much has happened in the past year

News  /  Opinion

Patience Kabwasa

It’s a nascent 2023 and I’m still trying to comprehend how 2022 flew by so quickly. So much has happened between now and this time last year. It’s hard to describe in words the emotional toll 2022 had — both mountain tops and deep valleys. 

Last year was marked by sudden and unexpected deaths — beginning and ending with the suicides of young, high-achieving, beautiful pop culture influencers: Miss USA, Cheslie Kryst and renowned dancer and long-time The Ellen DeGeneres Show DJ Stephen “tWitch” Boss. Colorado recognized National Suicide Prevention Week last September with some of the highest rates of suicide in the nation. In response to long-time advocacy, state lawmakers announced in spring last year they would commit an historic single-year half-billion-dollar investment towards mental and behavioral health.

Also in 2022, the planet watched as Russian President Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine. Many believed the conflict would be over in a week or two but instead, due to Ukraine’s incredible resolve, is approaching its 1-year anniversary. As global sanctions pushed Russia to its brink, American Olympian Brittney Griner was given a 9-year sentence for drug possession. After 10 months of outcry demanding her release, negotiations brought her home.

Last year also brought an unimaginable assault on human rights with the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, paving the way for 13 states to ban abortion outright. For the first time in generations young women have fewer rights over their bodies then their mothers or grandmothers. Since that decision, advocates and lawmakers across the country have worked to create “islands of access” to support women’s reproductive health. Some companies even offered to reimburse travel expenses for employees who need to cross state lines for abortions.

When I think about gun violence last year, I think about the people we failed. The babies of Uvalde, Texas and the those who lost their lives at Club Q, just to name a notable few of the 2,500 people who were either injured or the 637 people who died in a mass shooting in 2022. At great cost, last year at least saw some meaningful action restricting gun access. 

And then there is the growing wealth divide which has, in many ways, destroyed the middle-class. It’s also no surprise that so many of those living paycheck to paycheck are BIPOC folks. We’re urged to just “pull ourselves up by the bootstraps,” all while Black women are the biggest carriers of student loan debt in our country. 

But 2022 moved us more toward equity thanks to President Joe Biden’s administration making good on a campaign promise to forgive student loan debt (altough, it is currently being held up in court).

And, of course, political shakeups during the midterm elections reminded us our vote still has power — when we use it.

Pausing to celebrate and recharge is necessary. But we can’t lose the traction we’ve gained in 2022. We must continue to harness our collective voice and demand action to effect justice. This year, we still have work to do.

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