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Volume 53 Number 2 Spring 2020
Susan M. Wolfe, Susan Wolfe and Associates and Dominique Thomas, University of Michigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
When we began work on this issue, we never considered it would be published in the middle of a pandemic. Several of the articles include editor notes indicating changes to relevant material since articles were originally submitted.
As community psychologists, this is relevant to what we do on many levels – policy, systems, community, and individual. SCRA listserv inquiries ask about measures that can be used, ideas for how to get through, transitioning from live classes to online classes, creating and reinforcing community, and many others. Our professional lives and workplaces have been changed during this time and our personal lives and livelihood, health, and mental health may also be affected. This is not business as usual, nor should anyone feel compelled to meet the same productivity demands. Healing is a necessary part of this change.
Once stay-at-home orders are lifted (if they were ever put into place), there will be a lot of work to do to restore the damage that this virus has inflicted on people, communities, and entire countries through loss of lives and livelihoods. We might start thinking now about how policy and systems change would have helped toward prevention and intervention throughout this period, and how it can be helpful to manage the fallout and help people to rebuild their lives, health, and mental health.
We may have felt powerless as we watched the less than effective response in some countries, including the United States. It’s especially difficult since we know about prevention and intervention, we know what could have and should have been done, but most of us had no voice or were not positioned to step up and do anything beyond our local communities. Efforts to inform people about what is going on or learn more about the difficulties that were being encountered were viewed as being politically motivated, and many decision-makers chose to discount science. Even an empirically sound and politically neutral report from the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General was discounted and disparaged.
Of equal relevance to community psychologists are the racial and ethnic disparities with disproportional numbers of people of color contracting and dying from COVID 19. Until the United States and other countries admit to and confront the role of racism in perpetuating these disparities, they will unfortunately continue. It is time for all of us to speak out whenever we see racism and adopt an antiracist stance in our personal and professional lives. If this virus taught us anything (or should have), it has shown just how connected we are worldwide. All of us, regardless of national boundaries, are in this race for survival together and need to address pandemics, climate change, and other threats to our survival as a united whole.
For the next TCP issue – Summer 2020 – we will be including a special feature with your experiences, thoughts, and anything members would like to share about their COVID 19 experience. We invite all of you to submit an article. We would especially like to hear from students – undergraduate and graduate, faculty who had to change course mid-semester, practitioners, and retired members. Instructions for submission are at the end of this issue. PLEASE read and follow them.
This issue is smaller than some of the previous issues, but still includes many thought-provoking and inspiring articles. It is also, admittedly, a couple of weeks late as I (Susan) struggle with decreased bandwidth from the toll this disease is taking on me mentally and emotionally. I worry about friends and family members, I worry about my own health as a member of a higher risk “senior” group, and I worry about the physical and financial toll this disease is taking on so many families in our communities worldwide.
I hope this issue finds you, those you care about, and as many individuals across the world as possible in good mental and physical health as we grieve for those who have been less fortunate.
Susan and Dominique