Reflections on “the light at the end of the tunnel”, and the fires that rage. On holding righteous rage, tending to sacred joy, and the choices now in front of us.

One year ago, Arundhati Roy published “The Pandemic is a Portal” and her words were adopted as the rallying cry of the social change set. In shock and grasping for answers in those early days of COVID, her essay gave us purpose. Its final words:

“And in the midst of this terrible despair, [coronavirus] offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. …

Along with what felt like all of America, I was glued to my screen on Wednesday. Inauguration Day had finally finally arrived. I watched the proceedings with bittersweet relief. My Twitter timeline hummed happily with outfit psychoanalysis, J Lo said whats?, and mitten memes.

Image: Harvard Gazette

By the time Amanda Gorman began her breathtaking poem, the mood was ebullient. As she recited her final lines, I felt four years of tension leave my body, and hope enter in its place:

We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
In every known nook of our nation,
In every corner called our country,
Our people, diverse and beautiful,
Will emerge…

When I started to reflect on the year that will soon pass and set my intentions for the one ahead, I struggled to steady myself. Is there a word to describe feeling equal parts grief, awe, and hope?

As 2020 winds down, I’ve been meditating on the immense gratitude I hold. In the past year, so many have generously shared their truths with me, and supported me as I worked out mine. In the spirit of reciprocity and in hopes of connecting with other fellow travelers, I’m now sharing back some of my reflections — essentially, a synthesis of received…

As people everywhere grapple with the failure of public agencies to respond effectively to COVID-19, they’re taking matters into their own hands. Institutions would do well to take some pages from the organizer’s playbook.

A mural in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Photo by Tiffany Hagler-Geard

“I’d like some food, please,” says the soft voice on the other end of the line.

“Yes, of course. What would you like?” I ask.

“Food.” Pause. “Any food. We eat everything,” she says. I hear a twinge of a Carribean accent.

“Yes, we’d be happy to deliver food! What do you like to eat? We want to make sure to get things you enjoy.”


No one knows how Covid-19 will play out, and how things will look on the other side. But this is how we can work together for a compassionate, resilient future.

Last night, I spent 2 hours on a call with over 160 activists, organizers, and concerned citizens from across the US coordinating responses around Covid-19. I signed off filled with both hope and anger.

Hope because the discussions reaffirmed that in times of crisis, people will come together to help each other. Anger because in the wealthiest country in the world, the questions being asked — all some version of…

Panthea Lee

Structural justice x active democracy x radical love. Leading @theReboot.

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