Close up Champagne bubbles in glass on black background

In the spiritual fellowship of which I’m part, the month of January is considered the Season of Renewal, where we look for a new start and new opportunities to be all we were created to be. But that renewal doesn’t come just because one year ends and another begins. New life and new realities arise out of actions we invest to bring them about.

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that systems critical to the quality of our lives — the justice system, democracy, health care delivery — only live up to their highest ideals when we force them to. Without us holding them accountable, these systems and more, become weapons used against us.

One borderline illiterate president and his clown car of suck-ups brought the entire national experiment that is American democracy to the brink of collapse. All global eyes were also on America due to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. After the corporate pledges to do better by Black people and after the guarantees by countless individuals and institutions to check their racist ways, the number of unarmed Blacks killed by police didn’t skip a beat.

Medical apartheid still kept us at the back of the health care line. The digital divide still took its unequal toll upon our virtual learners. And white nationalists still worked to silence our votes.

But, Lord have mercy, the fight we exhibited in 2020, the dogged determination to speak truth to power and demand what is rightfully ours, certainly made our ancestors proud. We, the essential workers, kept this nation from crumbling. We, the parents and teachers, allowed us to hold onto and even deepen our sense of community and connection. We did these things and more, come what may.

Still, the madness of 2020 will not magically disappear come Jan. 1. However, if we take with us into 2021 the urgency, grit and courage we displayed in 2020 to demand criminal justice reform, to remove the Criminal-in-Chief from the White House and to call out America’s history of medical racism, our future will be bright indeed, and we will “Mos Def” have a Happy New Year!