Many of you responded to our invitation to share your “Quarantine Class Notes” earlier this spring. It was amazing to read about your experiences, so I decided to write my message for this issue in the same spirit.
Back in March when URI shifted to remote learning, many staff members, including me, began working from home. I’m fortunate to have a job I can do from home and a home in which to do it. My partner and son were also working and going to school from home, so finding the space to work—and the Wi-Fi bandwidth—was a challenge. My daughter is in Maine doing an internship, so I claimed her room as my office. But we managed, and actually enjoyed much of our lockdown. We were healthy, comfortable, busy with work, and able to spend our free time doing things we enjoy. I read three books; did online yoga classes; logged a lot of miles walking, running, and cycling; got out to surf a few times; and even signed up for free online guitar lessons—that’s a story for another time.
That’s my in-kind note from quarantine.
But now, as we’re getting ready to go off to print, the world is in crisis. We are emerging from the closings and quarantines imposed earlier this spring, and many places are experiencing spikes in people sick with COVID-19. Our economy has been ravaged. And the May 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis—yet another Black life taken in a police encounter—proved again that 400 years of racism in this country has left us with a lot of work to do and a lot of changes to make.
The resulting demonstrations and protests have raised a great deal of awareness and have even sparked a handful of real changes, such as commitments from some cities to make major police reforms, the toppling of Confederate and slavery-era statues, the introduction of federal legislation addressing police reform, and promises from industries and organizations to address institutional racism.
By the time this issue arrives in your mailbox later this summer, it is my hope the list of changes will have grown exponentially. In the meantime, I’m starting a new book: How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. It’s one of the faculty read/watch/listen recommendations on pages 22–23. We all have a lot to learn.
—Barbara Caron, Editor-in-Chief