For people all around the world, 2020 was a year like no other for a multitude of reasons we know all too well. In retrospect, it appears as though the groundwork for creating such a tumultuous twelve months was evident at the very start of the new decade as we witnessed environmental chaos in Australia and violent orders that many believed would actually lead us into the ever imagined “World War III.” We then witnessed the deaths of key figures such as Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman, and several others who forever etched their legacies into our memories, as well as other alarming subjects such as some deadly hornets that remind us of our negligence in protecting ecosystems through our introduction of invasive species. And then came (yet again) the never ending fight against police brutality and racial injustice which resulted in the largest protest documented in modern human history after the tragic murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd amongst others. Lastly, we as a global family began to experience (and to this day continue to experience) the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to nearly two million deaths, lost jobs, small businesses on life support, and an exacerbation of the ongoing mental health crisis, among other impacts.
The concurrence of these many issues took a toll on our global population and tested us in many ways. I believe that the year 2020 was one in which our empathy, togetherness, and critical thinking were all tested through these bouts of darkness that we were forced to face. Moving into 2021, the challenges of last year are far from over and we are forced to grapple with the question of how we can find and work towards the light at the end of the tunnel. We are seeing some light emerging with vaccine efforts underway, justice reform making its way into more rooms, and in the aftermath of a violent insurrection, the United States beginning its transition into a more hopeful phase of power. The lens has probably never been more focused on public health than it is now, with the plethora of contributions our field can make to support the physical, mental, and emotional health of our society during these times. Here at ICH, our work is rooted in the evaluation of programs and research to improve community health and health equity. As we move further into 2021, we are working diligently to be more aware of our study populations and partners and to reflect deeply on what methods are most appropriate in helping frame a thorough picture of their needs, priorities, and experiences. As an organization, we hope to contribute in a meaningful way to lifting up the most marginalized and underserved people in our communities and creating a more just society for the years ahead.