Only When It Is Darkest, Can We See the Stars: Marc Lamont Hill Reflects on 2020

Felice León
·2 min read

“2020 showed us how vulnerable we are to the unforeseeable, it showed us how precarious our lives are. 2020 showed us that in a day, our entire worlds could be turned around. And because of our vulnerability, that instant shift in our lives could have devastating consequences.” —Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D.

Like many of us, Marc Lamont Hill is still attempting to make sense of the tumultuous year that was 2020.

“2020 kicked our asses,” Hill told The Root.

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From the coronavirus pandemic that paralyzed the country, leaving over 330,000 dead (and counting); the state-sanctioned deaths of and violence towards Black people; the 2020 uprisings, which were a response to the police killings; and not to mention the loss of many, many luminaries—to say that “2020 kicked our asses” might be an understatement.

“It was the confluence of all those things at once against the backdrop of a presidency which was even more racist, even more indifferent to Black suffering than other presidencies which all have been and so on some level,” says the author of We Still Here: Pandemic Policing, Protest and Possibility.

Indeed, Trump’s presidency has shown that we live in a country where white supremacy still exists. His mere presence in the White House emboldened many racist Americans, and his inaction during a time of crisis made a bad situation, well, worse.

As we end this unequivocally bleak year, where is there hope?

“In 1968, Dr. King said, it is only when it is darkest that we can see the stars,” Hill said. “This was an incredibly dark moment and we were able to see those stars, those stars roaming the streets of Minneapolis, those stars were on the streets of Philadelphia, in New York and Los Angeles and Houston. Those stars were protesters who were willing to stand up and speak out and use their bodies and put their bodies on the line as a means of pushing for freedom.”

Watch Marc Lamont Hill’s entire reflection on 2020 in the video above.