Letter from the Editor
Maddie Freeman, LICSW
This early March, I really felt it in my body that it was the anniversary of COVID lockdown and the anniversary of AGPA Connect 2020 in New York City. I felt tightness in my chest and distracted. I recently started as a therapist at a psychodynamic group practice, and I noticed that with many of my clients, I was bringing up the lockdown anniversary -- the second Thursday in March -- as possible stressors for them. I was doing a lot of validating and normalizing, and I can’t help but wonder for whom.
I still have such fond memories of the 2020 conference: the physical connection, the shiny fancy hotel, the reunions. And I vividly remember the AGPA listserv right after that conference; one by one, members disclosed that they had tested positive for the virus. I remembered hugging one, sitting at the luncheon with another, and sharing a dance with another. It was all so new then. Those were the “wash your hands while singing happy birthday” days. I remember telling my parents, “I’m glad you have enough food from the grocery store, to get you through these couple of weeks.” Now that we are over a year out, I find myself missing the innocence, the ignorance, the unawareness of what was to come. To truly believe that my parents only needed a couple of weeks’ worth of food to “get through” this sounds pretty good, right about now.
It is unfortunate that it took a deadly pandemic, but COVID has uncovered that we are all globally interconnected and must think about how we affect each other. It has also uncovered so many injustices and inequities that have always been present, but have now been revealed in a new light. For example, now that we all need to be virtual and remote because of the pandemic, we have so easily transitioned to that, when people with mobility issues or accessibility needs have been advocating for these services long before COVID. The vaccine rollout was disappointing and unjust in many ways, with its scarcity mentality like we must rush to get an appointment. And I am constantly devastated, but not surprised, by the white supremacy-rooted murders of Black and Brown individuals and the rise in transphobia and anti-Asian hate crimes. As an individual with immense privilege, I am trying to ask myself in this time, where can I use my voice, and where does it make sense to use my power for leverage? Where should I leave room to center other voices? Where and to whom can I give financial contributions? How am I being complicit in upholding white supremacist ideals and actions, since I have benefitted from them my whole life?
I want to highlight NSGP’s new Statement of Equity and Inclusion, as it explicitly asks us to reflect on the ways in which we contribute to systems of oppression, and it is a call to action and collaboration.
Although my work schedule has always conflicted with the DEI Thursday meetings, I feel a sense of hope, gratitude, and solidarity when I see the weekly reminder emails. This work is crucial, as well as messy, confusing, difficult, and new for many. It is never too late to jump in and find your corner of social justice work, and it is imperative that we, as interconnected beings, stick together in moving towards healing. We really hope you enjoy this issue of NSGPeople, and we welcome comments or feedback at our email address: email@example.com.
Maddie Freeman, LICSW