Calamity as Catalyst
I could use many words to describe 2020 -- not all of them camera-friendly. Twelve months ago, New America’s staff went home for what most of us assumed would be a couple of months at most. By May, we were watching a rising death toll from the pandemic and the unforgettable death of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer. We could not look away from his and so many other deaths of Black men, women, and children at the hands of police, leading to a much wider recognition of the older and more targeted pandemic of structural racism. As the year wore on, even the wearing of masks became politicized in the turbulence of an ugly presidential election, one that former President Trump turned into an attempted insurrection and attack on our democracy on January 6.
We can look forward to a new year, but we cannot escape the deeper fissures and failures that created the disasters of 2020, from our crumbling health and care systems riddled with racism to our unrepresentative democracy. We cannot hide from the old America in a quest to build a new America, and a new way for America to be in the world, one that is much closer to our highest ideals of equality, justice, liberty, democracy, and tolerance.
In a traditional year, New America, like many organizations, would put out an annual report. But 2020 was not a traditional year. So in this “un”-annual report, we bring you examples of how New America’s researchers, changemakers, technologists, and storytellers are lifting up policy solutions that work; solutions that, when put into practice, will include the voices and views of a much wider range of Americans and that will pay as much attention to policy delivery as to problem diagnosis. We’re bringing you our vision for navigating online education; for responding to and reducing climate change; for creating a citizenry armed against disinformation; for an entire infrastructure of care; and for addressing racial inequities in everything we do.
Over the past 12 months, our community has consistently surprised me with their resilience and creativity. Our communications and production staff became Zoom gurus; our programs explored new formats for sharing knowledge. If you stayed connected with us by joining one of our more than 200 events, workshops, conferences, and briefings; reading one of our many reports, commentaries, and blog posts; partnering with us or supporting us in 2020, thank you. We look forward to engaging you in ever more ways in 2021.
April 8, 2021