2020 has been a difficult, heartbreaking, and tumultuous year in so many ways. The toll COVID is taking on our communities, especially the most disenfranchised among us (disproportionately poor and working-class people of color), remains heartbreakingly gut-wrenching. Governments across the globe have violated the rights of their people repeatedly, from the ongoing police murders of Black and brown people in the US to the rise of authoritarianism in Hungary, rising state-sponsored anti-Muslim violence in India, increasing evidence of oppression against Uighur Muslims rounded up and sent to forced labor camps in China, and police brutality and murder of youth protesters in Nigeria.
At the same time, 2020 has been a year of great (un)learning, resistance, and revolution. Just as we have seen the lethal forces of hate, apathy, lies, and violence used against the most marginalized among us, we have also seen Black, brown, undocumented, disabled, queer, trans, poor, working-class, and many other folks rise up and fight back to advocate for our lives and futures. This year has challenged us in so many ways, and yet, through showing us the cracks and failures of capitalism, white supremacy, a for-profit US health care system, criminal “justice”, and other cruel and outdated systems, 2020 has also shown us the power of the collective and the necessity of our dreams and activism.
As our founder Sonya Renee Taylor teaches us, it’s a powerful practice to live in the both/and — to embrace the at times uncomfortable and even painful liminal spaces we find ourselves in as we rupture old patterns, selves, and lives to co-create our future. Sonya shared back at the beginning of the COVID crisis:
“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
Throughout 2020, Sonya has been reaching out with lessons of radical self-love, not only through her written work and appearances via dozens of podcasts, round tables, panels, keynote speeches, and news programs, but also through her “What’s Up, Y’all?” videos posted to her Instagram and YouTube channels. She has provided us with wisdom for all seasons of this year. In November, as those of us in the US (and many of us around the world) were waiting with baited breath for the outcome of the presidential election, Sonya reminded us:
“Liberation is not a thing we will be delivered unto. It will be the act of daily creation — and it will be the act of daily creation in the midst of great chaos. Because it has always been the act of creation in the midst of great chaos.”
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As we look back on 2020, gather the wisdom we’ve gained from it, and prepare to meet 2021, here is a countdown of Sonya’s top ten most popular “What’s Up, Y’all?” videos from the year. We share them here as an invitation for continued learning, reflection, inner inventory-taking, and outward action-taking as we dream a liberatory 2021 into existence.
May the lessons contained in each of these videos spark further discussion and carry us into the new year as brain, heart, and soul fuel and inspiration. There is no going back, but tomorrow can be better when we work together to create it.
[feature image: photo of Sonya Renee Taylor against a white background. She is visible from the torso up and is wearing a vibrant red, blue, and leopard print chiffon dress that flows like the dreamy gown of a goddess. She is wearing a gold statement necklace and earrings. Her eyes are closed in bliss as she smiles. She appears to be in mid-twirl.]