A number of timelines about COVID-19 already exist online. As far as we could find, there aren’t any timelines that approach the impact of and the response to COVID-19 through an intersectional lens. From our view, there is a connected narrative of impact that accompanies every story about state response to vulnerability and struggle.
This timeline is visually presented on an open source timeline software tool called JS KnightLab. We are grateful to the team that created this platform and continue to improve on expand its functionality. And, like many platforms, it is limited in its ability to customize or to assign timeline points to multiple categories. This means, when you look at the timeline, you will see complex experiences, like the resistance of a hunger strike at an ICE detention center, turned into a single category.
The categories we are using for the timeline are:
- Public Health: This refers to the politicization of public health, the public health infrastructure, the public health response to the virus, and rates of infection and death.
- Prison Industrial Complex: This refers to the prison industrial complex. For this timeline, we are using it for dates and ranges of time referring to prisons or immigrant detention centers.
- Xenophobia: This refers to xenophobia and we lift it particularly in this timeline, and separate it from racism although they are related, because from the beginning of this pandemic, anti-Asian xenophobia has defined how the coronavirus is understood and responded to. We also sometimes include other anti-immigrant actions within this category.
- Racism: This refers to racism and white supremacy. We use it to refer to a range of impacts that affect Black, Indigenous & People of Color, including effects of structural racism. We also name essential workers in this section, if disproportionately affecting workers of color.
- Economics: This refers to the economics of the virus. We include in this everything from labor organizing and response to the corporate response and protections to how wealth and poverty are impacted by the pandemic. This also refers to global economic forces.
- Healthcare: This refers to the healthcare system, the infrastructure of private and public healthcare systems including hospitals, clinics and nursing homes, as well as healthcare workers.
- Vaccination: This refers to the work towards creating a vaccine and includes material on Big Pharma as well as material on vaccine distribution and equity.
Many of these categories could be cross-listed with the others. What we don’t include, because it would overwhelm this format, are categories on the militarization of the pandemic, the environmental impact, the gendered impact, and ongoing resistance to state inaction and/or the assertion of local care practices. And although stories of resistance and intervention are present here on the timeline, we also do not include them in any specific categories based on limitations of the platform at this time.
Oral History Resources
As we shared, the reason for this very close-to-the-ground timeline is that, when we look across histories, it is rare that we have access to the complexity of a lived experience. The stories of what people experienced either get lost through the pressure of time or, sometimes, are intentionally erased because of how they don’t fit the assumptions of what did and didn’t happen. These are oral history documentation projects related to COVID-19. If you have a story to tell, please consider going to these spaces and share what you know. It matters to all of us that you are witnessed; every experience is part of our overall collective reality. It also matters, as we face an unknown future, that our descendants can learn from our mistakes and struggles, as well as our glories. May we help them to build the things that need more time to evolve.
General COVID-19 documentation materials, including regional and statewide, mostly focused on oral histories
A Note on Resistance
This timeline shows a range of different examples of resistance: from those incarcerated staging hunger strikes against a lack of safety protocols and protections, to workers organizing to protest the lack of economic support for people whose work has been disrupted, as well as to countless protests against incidents of anti-Black racism and anti-Asian and xenophobic violence. What isn’t as visible on this timeline are the many stories of collective and community care that showed up in local communities. In urban and rural areas, led by community organizations, mosques and churches and synagogues and spiritual collectives. They also organized as part of political groups, labor groups, and neighborhood groups, people set up food banks, phone trees, supply runs and cash-shares. Some of those flared up at the start of the pandemic and then dwindled away while others are continuing and deepening into long-term mutual aid and other manifestations. Healthcare practitioners also set up informal supply shares of masks and other protective equipment with vulnerable community members outside of insurance or other formal networks. Are you involved in something like this where you live? What other forms of resistance have you seen? Though we began long before the COVID pandemic, we came together to transform the challenge and gaps we saw in the holding of collective care and safety for our respective communities. We see our work as part of the timeline of resistance.