Opening Schools Shouldn’t Be the Priority

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

As the number of serious COVID-19 cases is on the decline, President Joe Biden has made it a part of his 100-day plan to ensure that most K-8 schools reopen to students and teachers. He says that he expects them to be open for the full five days a week like pre-COVID. 

I understand that it’s important for students, especially younger ones, to return to an in-person environment. However, I feel like it’s just flat-out irresponsible to put both students and teachers in that kind of situation. In this situation, they’re not vaccinated and are actively interacting with other people. Without the proper precautions, going to school can worsen the problem.

It has been a tough year for students at any level since COVID-19 shut everything down, but I feel like it has been especially awful for students in the K-8 grade levels. These education levels are crucial for the development of children. 

According to Politico, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, said that vaccinating all teachers before going back into the classroom would be “non-workable.” So why would President Biden claim to have the grand plan to open up K-8 schools in his first 100 days in office if his top advisers on the pandemic said that it’s “non-workable”? 

This rash decision will not only ravage the teachers, it will impact the children — specifically Black students, who are at a higher risk than their peers. According to the University of Michigan, Black people are three times more likely to get COVID-19. With schools going back to in-person instruction, Black students would have to take more caution if there was a return to school. Understandably, students would want to go back to school, but is it worth putting Black students, Black teachers and their families at risk? 

Due to the pandemic, students have had to stay home and experience virtual learning’s ups and downs. Now we can all confidently say that virtual school isn’t the same as in-person learning. You’re not exclusively paying attention to the lessons, and you’re just not engaged. It has gotten so bad that school systems consider summer school to make up for lack of learning.

I understand the rush for trying to get students back into school buildings and out of the house. If I were in the students’ shoes, I would want to go back as well. It’s been almost a full year since this started. However, people have to make sacrifices, and I know everyone is tired of hearing that phrase. We’ve been collectively hearing it as a country ever since late March of last year. 

However, such a sentiment still remains true. Parents shouldn’t have to worry about whether schools will reopen and potentially send their child back into a potentially contagious environment. President Biden is wrong for making this proclamation without consulting this team of people who are well-versed in this area. 

Ryland Staples is a graduating senior strategic communication major from Silver Spring, Maryland.

FILE – In this Aug. 26, 2020, file photo Los Angeles Unified School District students attend online classes at Boys & Girls Club of Hollywood in Los Angeles. After weeks of tense negotiations, California legislators agreed Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, on a $6.5 billion proposal aimed at getting students back in classrooms this spring following months of closures because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The Anatomy of Betrayal

 Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

What drives the act of betrayal? There is no one answer because it is layered. Motives can be crafted in experiences, while some are made by foundational beliefs. The act of committing betrayal is almost unforgivable and low, but also irresistible in dire circumstances. 

The question of “why?” arises in hindsight when the committer loses more than he or she intended to gain, but one thing is for sure: the betrayer is often selfish.

In the midst of civil unrest, the Black Panther Party fueled a surge for Black progression. Members challenged the fundamental beliefs of American society while protecting their own.

According to Britannica, the party was founded in 1966 and grew over subsequent years through powerful leadership. It became a staple for Black power. 

For every Black Panther Party member’s life changed, another non-affiliate’s life was threatened. Like Martin Luther King and Malcom X before the party, enemies lurked in the shadows. Ergo, the assainations that followed each legacy.

In Shaka King’s new film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” King epitomizes the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party through the main characters.  King takes you through the life of the protagonist Fred Hampton as his role as chairman while peeling back the layers of the antagonist, William O’Neal as his role as an FBI informant who infiltrated the party. 

Lakeith Stanfield (William O’Neal) personifies the tragic nature of O’Neal’s actions in a way that makes his character seem more human. You see that O’Neal’s predicament is formed out of desperate circumstances.

In the beginning of the film, O’Neal was involved in a crime that led to him getting pulled over and arrested. He faced up to six years in prison for stealing a car and impersonating a federal officer. At this point in the film, you’re not seeing a criminal or a rat. You’re seeing a man battered from prior conflict.  

The FBI agent asks O’Neal if he “was mad when MLK and Malcom X died,” to which O’Neal responds, “I never thought about it.” O’Neal’s lack of passion toward MLK and Malcom X may have initiated comfortability for the FBI agent to offer O’Neal the deal.

O’Neal’s theft is indicative of an economic struggle to which the FBI chooses to capitalize off of. O’Neal is now in a position to avoid jail time and be reimbursed as an informant.  

“O’Neal was a token black man to do the FBI’s dirty work. He wasn’t heavily involved in black matters and he already had a criminal mind, ” said Darrell Lee, a Richmond, Virginia resident.

Now you see a man, coerced into his decision and partially naive. You almost sympathize with O’Neal  because you see his impulsion and the severity of his predicament.  Throughout the movie O’Neal struggles with internal conflict as he becomes integrated with the organization. As he grows to appreciate the Black Panther Party, you almost hope he’ll have a change of heart, but O’Neal was consumed from within.

Warner Bros. Entertainment held a virtual summit, “The Anatomy of Betrayal” to deconstruct the elements of William O’Neal’s (Lakeith Standfield) character. 

“You don’t meet a lot of Fred Hamptons; you don’t meet a lot of people who are willing to die for their beliefs, but you do meet people who make pragmatic choices all the time,” said twin actor and writer  Keith Lucas.

O’Neal was a troubled man prior to coming into contact with the FBI agent. If he had made better decisions, he would have avoided the deal all together. You really see how a person can be consumed by their choices they choose to make. 

The act of committing betrayal just doesn’t happen; it’s premeditated. Thoughts marinate and grow stronger through incentives. It’s unnatural to go against your morals, there’s always some kind of personal gain.

In O’Neal’s case, he received today’s equivalent of $200,000 dollars, which back in the 60’s was worth a whole lot more, and freedom. Yes, he is wrong, but his actions are understandable. 

“I know a lot of brothers who when they watch this movie, they’re probably going to see themselves more like Will than like Fred,” said Lucas.

It’s truly because human nature is imperfect. It’s full of mistakes and poor decisions and although William O’Neal was the bad guy, you see his “why?”

“We have to give ourselves…a chance to tell stories, we have to see perspectives that we are uncomfortable with, this is the only way we expand,” said Actor Lakeith Stanfied. 

The conflict in history and in stories is what people learn from. Like the biblical reference, Judas betrayed Jesus for monetary gain just as O’Neal did Fred Hampton. 

Whether the betrayal happens in B.C or in 1967, you learn that selfish or sinful acts never end well. Both Fred Hampton and Jesus Christ were killed because of an act of betrayal.

The real William O’Neal would later commit suicide and Judas’ acts would lead to blasphemy.

So, the question stands.  What does one truly gain from betraying?

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

“Judas and the Black Messiah”: The Anatomy of Betrayal

 Kailah Lee | Staff Writer

Warning: This movie review contains spoilers for “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

What drives the act of betrayal? There is no one answer because it is layered. Motives can be crafted in experiences, while foundational beliefs make others. The act of committing betrayal is almost unforgivable and low, but also irresistible in dire circumstances. 

The question of “why?” arises in hindsight when the committer loses more than he or she intended to gain, but one thing is for sure: The betrayer is often selfish.

Amid civil unrest, the Black Panther Party fueled a surge for Black progression. Members challenged the fundamental beliefs of American society while protecting their own.

According to Britannica, the party was founded in 1966 and grew over subsequent years through powerful leadership. It became a staple for Black power. 

For every Black Panther Party member’s life changed, a non-affiliate’s life felt threatened.

In Shaka King’s new film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” King epitomizes the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party through the main characters. King takes the audience through the life of protagonist Fred Hampton (portrayed by Daniel Kaluuya) as chairman of the party while peeling back the layers of the antagonist, William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), an FBI informant who infiltrated the party. 

Stanfield personifies the tragic nature of O’Neal’s actions in a way that makes his character seem more human. O’Neal’s predicament is formed out of desperate circumstances.

At the beginning of the film, O’Neal is involved in a crime that leads to him getting pulled over and arrested. He faces time in prison for stealing a car and impersonating a federal officer. At this point in the film, audience members are not seeing a criminal or a rat. They are seeing a man battered from prior conflict.  

The FBI agent asks O’Neal if he “…was mad when MLK and Malcolm X died,” to which O’Neal responds, “I never thought about it.” O’Neal’s lack of passion toward Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X may have initiated the FBI agent’s comfort to offer O’Neal the deal. O’Neal then is in a position to avoid jail time and be reimbursed as an informant.  

Viewers see a man coerced into his decision and partially naive. Some might sympathize with O’Neal because of the severity of his predicament. Throughout the film, O’Neal struggles with internal conflict as he becomes integrated within the organization. As he grows to appreciate the Black Panther Party, audiences could wonder if he will have a change of heart.

Warner Bros. Entertainment held a virtual summit, “The Anatomy of Betrayal,” on Feb. 2 to deconstruct the elements of O’Neal’s character. 

“You don’t meet a lot of Fred Hamptons,” writer-producer-director Keith Lucas said. “You don’t meet a lot of people who are willing to die for their beliefs, but you do meet people who make pragmatic choices all the time.” 

O’Neal was a troubled man before coming into contact with the FBI agent. If he had made better decisions, he might have avoided the deal altogether, but a person can be consumed by the choices they choose to make. 

The act of committing betrayal doesn’t suddenly occur. It’s premeditated. Thoughts marinate and grow stronger through incentives. His actions may be understandable to some. 

“I know a lot of brothers who when they watch this movie, they’re probably going to see themselves more like Will than like Fred,” Lucas said.

Human nature is imperfect. It’s full of mistakes and poor decisions, and although O’Neal is the bad guy, one begins to understand his “why.”

“We have to give ourselves a chance to tell stories,” Stanfield said. “We have to see perspectives that we are uncomfortable with. This is the only way we expand.”

Balancing act: Going to school and having an internship

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

Let’s be honest, attending school has been a little rough over the past year. With the sudden shift to online instruction last March due to the global pandemic, students who were working at an internship while they were in school were suddenly working from home. 

I was one of those students, working at WAVY TV 10 in Portsmouth as a digital communications Intern. I was going to the station three times a week. It was an amazing experience and allowed me to experience working at a local TV station. When the pandemic hit, I was forced to come back home and continue my internship from my desk, 200 miles away from the station. 

I tried to keep up with the workload of both school and WAVY TV, but working on everything in one place was overwhelming for me. When my internship with WAVY eventually ended, I realized that I was overwhelmed because I was so used to being in the office. Without being in the office, I had a more challenging time trying to put my mind to what I need to do. 

Even while I was at school and didn’t have an internship, I never did any of my schoolwork in my dorm/room. I always did my schoolwork in the library, a place I associated with being productive. With the sudden change, I had to figure out the best way for me to be my most productive, even when I’m somewhere I don’t associate with productivity. 

During the fall semester, I was fortunate enough to secure an internship with the D.C. Public Charter School Board. I had to build my internship schedule around my school schedule, but having to make sure that class and work meetings didn’t overlap was a struggle. 

The first thing I had to do was make sure I had a set schedule where I worked exclusively on projects related to my internship. My first class started at 11 a.m. on most days, so I decided that from 9 to 11 a.m., I would exclusively work on my internship. On the other hand, my days usually ended around 3 p.m. to work on my internship from 3 to 6 p.m. Now I’m not perfect. Sometimes I wouldn’t be able to stick to my schedule, and I would work on internship responsibilities or schoolwork in the middle of the day and vice versa. Having that balance is essential, especially when it comes to online school. 

Last semester was tough, to say the least. Being able to have a set schedule brought some structure to my life. It would be best if you didn’t have to put your schooling at risk in order to give yourself an edge in the future. With just a bit of preparation, you can put your best foot forward at both!

The debacle known as Cyberpunk 2077

Ryland Staples |Staff Writer

Video games took the world by storm in the latter part of 2020 when the new PlayStation 5 (PS5) came out in early November. Everyone wanted to get their hands on the new console to have the latest and greatest gaming machine. Some tried to get it to play next generation (next-gen) games such as “NBA 2K 21” and “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” or wanted it in order to resell the PS5 to make a profit. There has been one game that has been on gamers’ minds since it was initially announced back in 2012, “Cyberpunk 2077.” 

The futuristic first-person role-playing-game (RPG) based in the far-off year of 2077 was first announced to the public in 2012. When the full game was released Dec. 10, 2020, gamers quickly realized that game was, for lack of a better word, broken. 

Players would randomly not be able to move or would be flung across the map. Non-Playable-Characters (NPC) would appear and disappear at random, or their faces would be distorted. There are plenty of videos and pages on YouTube dedicated to making compilation videos of “Cyberpunk 2077” glitches.  

Game consoles were pushed to their absolute limits just to run the game. There were major problems that made the game unplayable. The game was so bad on some console generations that Sony pulled the game from its online store and created ways for people to get a refund. 

A demonstration of “Cyberpunk 2077” was shown at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018. The event showcased the game and the vibrant life within Night City. However, it has been recently discovered following the game’s release that the developer of the game, CD Projekt Red, had pushed the restart button in 2016. The demonstration that was shown in 2018 supposedly showcasing the game was almost entirely fake. 

CD Projekt Red recently released a video on Twitter apologizing for “Cyberpunk 2077” and said the game “did not meet the quality standard we wanted to meet.” The company is known for producing one of the best games this past decade in “The Witcher 3,” so it was surprising this game would have so many problems.

It’s strange that a game that was infamously known for delays can still come out like this. At first, “Cyberpunk 2077” was going to be released April 16, 2020, but the game suffered from a series of delays through the year before it was released Dec. 10.

Since CD Projekt Red was delaying the game, it would seem the company would not want its development teams to participate in “crunching,” which is the action of game developers working on the game for hours at a time over multiple days.

According to a Bloomberg article, “There were times when I would crunch up to 13 hours a day,” said Adrian Jakubiak, a former audio programmer for CD Projekt Red. “… A little bit over that was my record probably — and I would do five days a week working like that.”

As someone who enjoys playing video games to relax and escape from reality for a little while, I don’t want my enjoyment of a video game to come at the cost of someone not being able to spend quality time with their family and loved ones. I also think it’s very inconsiderate to release a game that was half-finished at best out to the public in order to make a quick buck off the game’s name.

Black Joy: A Form of Activism

Jamaija Rhoades | Staff Writer

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Last year was such a solemn and somewhat bittersweet year for individuals of African descent. It was great to see everybody get informed or at least pretend like they were here for the cause. Still, it was also full of lots of responsibility with regard to educating others on the injustices we experience due to our skin color. 

While Black activism can take many shapes and forms, the method I see implemented most comes from education and reminders. Individuals of African descent continue to use their platforms to remind the rest of the world that, “Hey, life still pretty much sucks for us, and we aren’t going to let you forget it.” 

If anybody wants a breakdown of how horribly society has treated us for our differences, they can look in our films, hear it in our music, read it in our stories and even see it in our paintings. It feels like members of the community find it irresponsible to create anything about our experiences without highlighting the hardships and trauma we have experienced in the past and continue to share today.

This method of educating and reminding works to some degree to get our point across, but it also unintentionally convinces us that life is hopeless for Black folks and that we have no reason to be happy.

A radical yet simple form of activism that would be more beneficial to our mental health and our overall well-being is displaying more instances of Black people experiencing joy. 

I want to see more Black love, melanated smiles and embracing the beauty that is far from the westernized standards we all know far too well. More instances of Black kids being given the space to enjoy their youth without being reminded that their skin pigment makes them different from others. 

I want more instances of brown and Black children being able to watch a film about someone who looks like them, as it allows them to experience true escapism. It lets their imaginations run free without interruption. 

Simply seeing individuals who look like you finding happiness in a world that has convinced you that it is not available to you will create a sense of hope and strength that cannot be broken. 

“We live in a world in which our social environments are constantly reminding us of the injustices and negative things happening around us,” said Ciara White-Sparks, a Hampton University junior journalism major from Las Vegas. “If we are able to show more happiness in our communities, then it would create a ripple effect and influence more of us to see the good in this life.”

By finding happiness and showcasing Black people experiencing and enjoying life despite our circumstances, we have said in the most straightforward way possible: screw the system and its standards

In other words, nobody, not even the system of white supremacy, can take our pride, and nobody can hold us down.

Divided in Sanctity

Kailah Lee|Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Opposition-Politics, Clip Art

Home. A concept of living that has a face of togetherness, warmth and security. It is a place to confide in family and rest one’s weary head. The feeling of family is truly what makes a home, but as family exists, so do individuals with layers and differing opinions within the home.

It is healthy to disagree, but to what degree does a disagreement become a problem? I can delve into debatable topics all day, but the issue of politics seems to be taking the wheel.

The choice a person makes between left or right might often determine their social status. People have lost friends, followers and even jobs just based on their views. But what about the family? Sure, you could distance yourself from a family member, but what if you live with someone whose different views present themselves as problematic?

“I mean, if I was living in the same household as an avid Trump supporter, I’m not sure how good our relationship would be. Like you seriously have to have some missing screws to side with him,” said Dana Williams, a nurse in Henrico, Virginia.

So the next question comes down to if you could separate a person’s political views from their moral compass.

“If you elect an individual who believes in racism, misogyny and other -isms, to say the least, then you believe in those same things,” said Alana Stokes, a student at Randolph Macon University.

The argument is usually that they select someone who aligns with their conservative or liberal values; because voting is a duty, they must pick.

Which in reality is fair, but this political environment is not so black and white. When you select a candidate, you are not only voting with that party, but you’re also voting for a person with their own character and personality flaws.

“I thoroughly believe that a person’s character influences their decisions. What do we do the instant a president decides that he hates a race of people and gathers a group of minions to push his agenda for whatever? Like, how could you side with someone like that?” said Savanna Ross, a Virginia resident.

As you grow older, you start seeing family members like people. As a result, home can quickly turn into a house—or merely a shell with bodies that do not interact. In fact, the home could equally be a nightmare as it is a dream.

The world already puts so much on you, and one’s humble abode should be a sanctuary. Many people deal with situations that negate this—home could equally be a place of great stress.

In hindsight, politics have been another reason to divide people, and it’s actually quite sad how politics have divided families.

“Politics is always the elephant in the room. One moment you’re making a joke and somebody gets mad. Now y’all are having a debate that was completely pointless,” said Andrew Williams, a Henrico, Virginia, resident.

How is it possible to live with people whose morals and views are counter to yours?

Believe me when I say it’s possible. It may feel like a never-ending river of nagging and uncomfortable dynamics. Still, it is more than likely a temporary situation.

As much as you might want to talk about issues you are passionate about, it might be best to just suppress them in the name of parental control. You could leave, but if that is not a choice, try changing the topic.

If they initiate the conversation, think of a diversion to de-escalate the situation. Or just calmly agree to disagree. 

By no means should you change who you are, but just think of the greater good. Suppose the topic of politics tends to make for a problematic atmosphere. In that case, it is probably best that you keep your different opinions to yourself.

Disagreements are perfectly healthy; it just comes down to the arguers. Now, are both parties willing to accept their differences and live harmoniously as possible? That’s a whole different story. 

What Biden’s Win Means for Black Americans

Miles Richardson|Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Instagram – @gmalhotra

So, after months of anxiety and social unrest centered around this election, we finally have a result.

Joe Biden ran his campaign by convincing the public that Donald Trump is the boogeyman for Black people.  While being interviewed by Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne tha God, Biden said, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”  Biden, along with many other political leftists, spent plenty of time, money and energy making sure we knew how important it was for us to vote Trump out of office. He blamed Trump for the COVID-19 deaths. During the first presidential debate, Biden critiqued Trump’s response to the COVID-19 death toll.

 “It is what it is because you are who you are.”

 He blamed him for the destruction caused by social justice riots and protests. At a campaign appearance in Delaware, Biden criticized Trump, “He’s stoking violence in our cities,” and went as far as blaming Trump for the deaths of Black citizens by the hands of police officers. At the same appearance in Delaware, Biden said about Trump, “This is the fact about how he is dealing with this perilous hour in our nation. And now, we have to stand against violence in every form it takes, violence we’ve seen again and again and again of unwarranted police shooting, excessive force, seven bullets in the back of Jacob Blake, knee on the neck of George Floyd, killing of Breonna Taylor in her own apartment.” Biden thought the quickest way for him to be elected was to be the boy who cried wolf. And it worked. So, what does all this mean for Black people?  Absolutely nothing.

We voted for Biden and Kamala Harris because they told us everything we wanted to hear, and that’s OK. After all, the point of a democracy is to vote for the person who will best represent your interests. However, I would like to pose a question to all the Black voters out there: When was the last time the condition of Black people in America drastically improved under any president?  I’ve only been alive 20 years, but I don’t ever remember a time when Black people were saying, “Yes! So and so just got elected. We’re OK now.” The reason for this is because a politician’s primary job is not to serve the people but to say and do whatever is necessary for them to obtain a political position. So, if you thought Biden was going to somehow eradicate systemic racism, you’ve been misled.

Ever since I was a boy, my parents and grandparents have always preached to me about the importance of voting. It was not until now that I understood why an election year meant so much to them. People get excited about elections because it gives them the opportunity to excuse themselves of all responsibility and allows them to hold someone else accountable for the state of their lives. I’ve witnessed this mentality take root in my community now more than ever.

For proof of this, just look to the protests held by angry citizens and the recent activities of the NBA. In order to push for change, LeBron James spearheaded a campaign to encourage people to vote as if we are so powerless that the only thing we can do to improve our livelihoods is pick the right white man and hope he comes through for us.

The recent protests seem to confirm this statement. Out of all of the protest footage I’ve seen over the last few months, I never saw one list of demands produced nor any sort of plan put together by Black people. Instead, these social justice protests were all about raising awareness, which is a nice way to say begging white people to solve our problems for us. The status of Black Americans will change when we get strategic about the improvement of our communities through actual work and planning.  

Despite popular opinion, voting is not the most important thing you can do as an African American. What really matters is what you do when there’s no politician to beg or to blame.

Photo via  newsroom.ap.org

Politics Can No Longer be Swept Under the Rug

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

People usually don’t like to talk about politics. Either it will lead to talking about something unpleasant or just make people angry. However, over the past four years, politics have become a larger part of our daily lives. Since the election of President Trump in 2016, people have been drawing metaphorical lines in the sand when it comes to how people feel about certain political figures. 

Before the election of Trump, I feel like people knowingly stayed out of politics because it was either too confusing or they just weren’t interested in it. Even with something as simple as voting, there are lots of people out there who have never even considered voting in elections until now. A good example of this is Kanye West, who notably ran as a write-in candidate during the 2020 election. On election day, he posted a video of himself submitting his ballot, with the caption saying that this was his first time voting in his 43 years of life, a reality more common than people think.

 Even during the 2016 election, when the call for mass voting first really got underway, there were still lots of people who either chose to sit out or just write-in some nonsense candidate like Harambe. People didn’t take Trump’s candidacy seriously and just assumed he would lose, which was wrong, and the country as a whole had to spend the last four years dealing with the repercussions. 

One reason why people may try to avoid politics is because it just stresses them out. Which is understandable, especially during an election year where candidates are trying to sway voters in every possible way. According to the Pew Research Center, 53% of Americans say that talking about politics with someone who they disagree with is stressful to them. However, due to the things that President Trump has done while in office, it’s become apparent that the people who are to blame are the people who put him in the position in the first place. 

Over the past four years, people around the country have come to the realization that politics affects a large facet of our lives. Which is why it has become so frowned upon when people say that they support President Trump. In a way, they are the people who are responsible for the terrible things that have been going on over the past four years. With the presidential election over and the victor decided, President Trump is doing everything in his power to delegitimize the results of the election. 

I understand the idea of being together and forgiving one another for mistakes that are in the past, but one of the first things President Trump said on his campaign trail back in 2015 was calling all Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Voting for a person who openly questions the legitimacy of a global pandemic, as well as calling his political opponents names like a child, just doesn’t sit right with me. 

That may seem harsh, but politics has become more than just something that you keep to yourself. I feel like with this new generation of voters, politics have become more of a lifestyle choice for people, shaping the way they live and the way they go through life itself.

Depression in the age of COVID-19

Ryland Staples | Staff Writer

Jeff Chiu | Associated Press

COVID-19 has changed the way we see the world. Period. Point blank. Just a few short months ago, nobody would have dreamt of society being told by government officials to stay home to slow the spread of a global pandemic. What we’re going through currently is world history and will be looked back upon as such. But what about the people who’re affected by these changes? It’s not surprising that people are falling into depression because of these life-changing events. But I feel like people fail to realize that the circumstances have changed. The kind of depression people fall into during the current pandemic is something much worse. 

I have had to live with my anxiety and depression for a while now. While at school, I often felt like I was looking at myself from a third-person perspective, flowing through my classes and my life in general, all alone. I would mentally check out for weeks, even months on end. When I looked up and noticed I haven’t been paying attention, I realized that I also haven’t talked to anyone for months on end. 

With COVID-19, that downward spiral has become 10 times worse. Now there isn’t even a routine anymore. If I had to describe the change, I would say that I feel like I have been put into a two-dimensional plane, only moving right and left. When I’m so used to being in a three-dimensional plane, it feels like all of the historical things that 2020 has thrown at everyone, was enough to blast me into an entirely different plane of existence. Every day feels the same, repeatedly; I wake up, do my daily task of school and work, and then go to sleep only to do it all over again the next day. With nowhere else to go, I feel like all I can do is go left and right until I stop moving altogether. 

I feel like this is worse than “normal” depression people dealt with pre-2020. Between the election just days away, the pandemic that has been ravaging the world for all but two months of the year and entire industries of businesses being forced to close down for months on end, it’s pretty easy to feel hopeless during this time. Still, it’s never healthy to go through life not feeling anything. 

You cannot just stick your head in the ground and watch as time passes by. You have to realize that you are your own protagonist. You make life worth living. I remember always being told “Look on the bright side,” or “It could be worse.” That would always get on my nerves, but it’s true when you think about it. Start by being thankful for the little things in your life, the things you enjoy doing, the foods you enjoy eating and other things that bring you joy. 

A friend of mine always used to tell me that whenever I was feeling stressed out and overwhelmed about something, “you should step back, take a break, maybe drink some tea or eat a granola bar and just take some time for yourself.” I know that that helps me destress when things start to pile up in my mind and I start feeling like I’m about to crash. Now that may not work for you, so try making a routine that will help you destress during this very stressful time.