As I watch the news or read any publication about the impact of COVID-19 on our lives, the realities of the disproportionality in access to healthcare, food, education and the ability to maintain safety in these frightening and insecure times looms large. In the context of these magnified truths, I find myself simultaneously reflecting on the fact that some in the Duke community, despite even having marginalized identities, enjoy considerable privilege.
Many of us can work from home, have access to food, enjoy great health benefits, and have the freedom to walk through the many beautiful trails in and around Durham. The temptation to complain or be frustrated by the circumstances, even if we experience many advantages, is great. I sometimes long to be in the office or simply go out for dinner at a restaurant. But as I contemplate the tragic circumstances of those whose already dire conditions have been made more dangerous, I am quick to correct myself.
During this time, I have been thinking about ways in which we can remain hopeful and support others who are in more precarious circumstances. We recently had a meeting with some Duke leaders in the diversity and inclusion area who fielded ideas for how to support staff, faculty, and students. The following ideas are small acts of support that can be done in the context of self-isolation:
- Record that for which you are grateful in a journal
- Make donations or continue to pay for services like hair dresser, nail salon, cleaning person or dog walker
- Perform voter registration calls
- Send articles/books/poetry with messages of support to friends and family
- Make time to connect virtually or via telephone
- Call a person who is not comfortable with technology and provide some tips/assistance
- Call an older person who might feel isolated
- Text someone an encouraging word, prayer or poem
- Arrange a virtual meditation session
In this issue of Newslinks, we have included a collection of stories that we hope you will find relevant and useful during these uncertain times. I close this message with the following quote that touches on hope:
"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater."
—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Kimberly D. Hewitt
Vice President for Institutional Equity & Chief Diversity Officer