Vanguard STEM

The Year that Was: Commemorating the COVID Pandemic Announcement

A year ago this week, March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. VanguardSTEM will host two events to mark this somber milestone with our #VSVillage.

Black femme presenting person standing against the wall in shadows. She is wearing a mask and gloves with a blue jacket and backpack.
COVID-19 has irrevocably changed the way we move through the world and engage with one another.

When it comes to COVID-19 in the United States, we are by no means out of the woods and there is sure to be more darkness, and sadly death, before the dawn. In spite of, and perhaps because of that, we think it is important to mark this moment; a year after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic and when most of the U.S. went into quarantine.

How does one mark the anniversary of a global pandemic that has taken more than a half-million lives in the U.S. and laid bare the well-known structural and individual violence that Black, brown and Indigenous people have faced for centuries in this country?

If we’re being honest, we don’t know. It’s not clear that anyone does. What we do know is that we need a moment to collectively process it all and we would like to create an opportunity to do that together.

How does one understand the impact of this disease, which can affect all human bodies, but inflicts the worst suffering on the most marginalized among us?

It’s almost too much to take in all at once, but there are members of our #VSVillage (by that we mean Black, Indigenous, Women and Non-binary People of Color in STEM) who have the scientific, technical and medical expertise to help us understand it and the embedded context to help us process what it means for our communities.

The fact is, we don’t know how we’re going too move through all that stands before us and all that we have endured. What we do know is that we do better in our community, this #VSVillage, which recognizes all parts of our identities and STEMM interests. We are going to honor that knowing in two ways this month: 1) a gathering to commemorate the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and 2) a new episode of On the Vanguard to discuss COVID-19 research and recovery.

Commemorating COVID-19: A #VSVillage Gathering

A closeup image of a collection of lit purple candles.

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know that every so often, when the times call for it, we invoke a Gathering. It’s a sacred time for us to come together as a #VSVillage community (and accomplices), in a space built by Black women to intentionally center the experiences of Black, Indigenous, Women and Non-Binary People of Color in STEM.

On this Friday, March 12, 2021 at 7:00pm ET, we will Gather for some intentional mindfulness exercises, again led by Rana Walker, before a silent reflection and some communal sharing. There is no other formal programming planned, but we hope you’ll join us to collectively breathe and commemorate who we’ve lost and what we’ve gained, what we’ve learned and what we’ve revised, and how we are able to show up now and for the future. We encourage you to bring a candle to light or sage to burn, if it’ll help establish your physical space. No expectations for this time, just an invocation of the VanguardSTEM hyperspace for healing, community, connection and acceptance for such a time as this. To participate, DM @VanguardSTEM on Twitter or Instagram or send us an email at hello[at]VanguardSTEM[dot][com].

On The Vanguard — COVID19: Black STEMM Women Leading Research & Recovery

This flyer shows syringes cast in purple and blue light. The text overlay reads “Save the date! COVID-19: Black Women in STEMM Leading Research and Recovery. #On the Vanguard. Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 6pm ET”
Mark your calendars for March 25 at 6pm ET and join us for our live web series, On the Vanguard, where we’ll be talking about the impact of COVID-19.

Our next episode of On the Vanguard (Thursday, March 25 at 6pm ET) is going to focus on what we now know about COVID-19 from a scientific, medical and public heath perspective. We’ll speak to some of remarkable Black STEMM (science, tech, engineering, math and medicine) women who are leading the way in sequencing, characterizing, analyzing and tracking this devastating disease.

In particular, we’re going to assess this current crisis through the lens of the intersectional scientific method, wherein it is impossible to separate the STEMM identities and multiple modes of expertise that Black women bring to bear on this global pandemic. We want to explore the way the lived experiences of Black STEMM women inform their ability to be at the fluid edge of drug discovery, public health analysis and vaccine deployment. Join us on Thursday, March 25 at 6pm ET to get a whole word from our esteemed COVID19 experts, Dr. Kim Gallon of COVIDBlack, Lieutenant Commander Charlene Reese of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, and Anicca Harriot(!). Subscribe to our Youtube channel, so you don’t miss it!

And if that weren’t enough, we’ll also be joined by Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, who is our featured author for this month’s #VSGetsLit Book Club. You won’t want to miss this informative and influential lineup.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein smiling in front of a plain background with red lipstick, large hoop earrings and a black jacket and top on the left. On the right is the cover art for her book entitled, Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred. Image features the silhouette of a femme-presenting person with an afro superposed with astronomical imagery.
VanguardSTEM #VSGetsLit March Book Club Featured author, Prof. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (left) and the cover graphics to her much anticipated first book, “Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred. Image courtesy CPW and Boldtype Books.

This article was originally published on March 9, 2021 on as part of our regular content.

If you enjoy our original content, consider donating to our parent not-for-profit, The SeRCH Foundation, Inc., to help support this work.

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