HOUSTON — We've seen our share of challenges in 2020. We remain in the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic. The national conversation around race relations and inequality has taken center stage and we witnessed a divisive and contentious election season. 2020 also saw a devastating, record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season.
While the year has been trying, there is still reason to be thankful. Here are five stories we hope puts some perspective on Thanksgiving in 2020.
We’ve all been trying to hold it together. It’s been difficult for teachers. As many were scared to go back to work, others are having to balance between teaching in person and remotely.
But no matter the challenges, we all find something we’re thankful for.
Gaby Diaz is a high school teacher, a mom of two and a wife. She said she was grateful for the food on the table, a supportive husband, great teacher and non-teacher friends.
“Every time I get frustrated with something, I remind myself that this is the craziest thing I've ever experienced as a human, as an American,” she said. “So whatever 2021 has, I know there's no going back to normal as a teacher. I recognize, like, these disparities in my community that we have to address. But I'm ready for a new year, if only just to write it on the board.”
Durmerrick Ross is a college student and a performance poet whose work centers around racial injustice and “all the ways the black experience shows up for us in America,” he described.
“Just to be still alive and to be a black man in America, I have to be hopeful,” he said. “I have to imagine that the world as it is, is not how it has to be and is not how it always will be. I have to be hopeful that because of the people that are gathering around the world and are really, you know, putting intention behind looking at the issues that plague so many of our communities, I have to be hopeful that that work, those seeds started in 2020 will come into fruition in 2021.”
Darius Vallier is a Houston drag performer, stand up comedian and LGBTQ activist.
“It hasn't been the most amazing year,” Vallier said. “But it's given me a chance to kind of reinvent myself. If I was in a normal situation, I wouldn't have been able to do a lot of the things that I've been able to do, grow with my family, grow with myself. Just be a better me.”
Ahmed Abdulmajeed is a refugee from Iraq. He became an American citizen in 2018.
He also works as a Language Access Advisor. He works with MasterWord Services, a language services company, to help healthcare systems, school districts and government agencies implement comprehensive language access plans to make their services accessible to non-English speaking population in the US. He said he used his experience as a refugee, a doctor, a bilingual speaker, medical interpreter and a graduate of a Master's degree in Health Administration to ensure that language access plans cover every aspect needed to provide meaningful support to these non-English speaking populations as they navigate these organizations. Abdulmajeed is also on the board of a non-profit organization, PAIR (Partnership for Advancement and Immersion of Refugees) that provides the necessary support and mentorship to refugee youth as they integrate into the complicated US education system.
“I just feel that from everything that I went through, from all of the things that I got to survive, there was something that was very clear that this too will pass,” he said. “The universe is just in a constant state of change. I just needed to know to have it pass with the least cost to myself and to my family and protect myself, protect my family, protect my friends and support them through this pandemic.”
Annie Johnson Benifield
Annie Johnson-Benifield is a political scientist and a voting rights activist for the League of Women Voters. Johnson-Benifield told us she was grateful for many things, including the time with her 103-year-old mom, who was recently sick, for her family, her siblings and her husband of 31 years Albert.
“[He] provides support for all my endeavors which keep me moving forward,” Johnson Benifield said.