In these moments of historic upheaval — this century’s largest pandemic, an economic fallout that has left millions jobless, a historic cry for racial justice and a presidential election that exposed deep divides in American reality — we’ve learned many lessons as a country, including resiliency, empathy and solidarity. These once-in-a-generation crises have inevitably touched everyone’s lives. My message is simple: We will manage this by collaborating across geographic, cultural and political boundaries — even without being physically together.
The arrival of President Joe Biden’s administration is not a magical solution to all our problems, but it is the first step. Now, we all have to keep the government accountable for the effectiveness of its policy decisions. I hope that the new administration will make good on its promises toward COVID-19 recovery, combating human rights violations and systemic inequalities, strengthening arts and cultural policies and regulating Big Tech.
The way out of this crisis is vaccination. It is an act of solidarity to help one another recover from the pandemic. It is only possible if each of us is aware of our responsibility to get vaccinated. I urge everyone to stay informed on the vaccine, consult with local doctors, wear masks and keep social distancing.
The coronavirus has indeed shaken many foundations of life for women, homeless individuals, people of color and others who have been disproportionately affected. The government needs to develop appropriate measures to address the varying circumstances many of us find ourselves in and ensure that the recovery plan protects people with disabilities, domestic violence victims, members of the LGBTQ+ community and many others.
Human rights violations and systemic inequalities
In summer 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement echoed historic cries for racial justice. American communities came to a tipping point in interrogating the systemic racism embedded in the fabric of the U.S. legislation and law enforcement practices. It is our collective dream that the new administration will listen to minority groups and design more human-centered policies that will make a difference.
Having roots of my own in Ukraine, I can affirm that the United States has a lot of say in shaping the direction of other countries, mainly due to its strategic interests, resources and power. When it comes to fraudulent elections in Belarus, the illegal Russian annexation of Crimea or the corrupt systems in Vladimir Putin’s administration, the United States has to learn to collaborate more cohesively, to take responsibility, to focus on humanitarian justice and rediscover our place in the international community.
Undoing the legacy former president Donald Trump left with our international relationships is a priority for Biden’s administration. This necessitates working against domestic threats, which include internal controversies brought on by disinformation and abroad, such as political accountability for Russian cyberattacks.
Education, arts and culture
Given Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ strong voting records supporting arts and cultural policies, I think in the coming years we can expect more resources allocated to support arts institutions, greater investment in arts education and the integration of arts in other economic activities. Lessons should be learned from the European Union’s approach — proposing the New European Bauhaus movement with the European Green Deal to marry the push for sustainability with arts and culture — to help the public engage with sustainability and other issues more concretely.
While the United States does have the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, most of the funding for commissioned art pieces comes from corporate donations and philanthropies. This means that individual entities are choosing certain art initiatives, maintaining outsized power over the arts industry. Therefore, the new administration needs to build cultural infrastructure regularly and more cohesively to integrate it into other policies.
Big Tech regulation
Over the past few years, our understanding of the digital has become more personal and more political. The monetization of private data by Big Tech companies has affected the way we interact with new ideas while digital privacy has perpetuated gendered experiences in digital spaces, unintended exposure online and greater divides in digital security.
Though technological evolution is inevitable and holds great importance for humanity, it can quickly become an instrument of potential harm. It’s imperative for every actor in the system — from legislative bodies to members of the new administration to corporations — to shape a more equitable and safe digital world.
None of these solutions are straightforward; most are unfathomably complex. However, as Biden brings an ethical compass and an experienced work ethic to the crises facing our nation, we must ensure that our government remains accountable to the people who elected it.
Contact Karina Nguyen at [email protected].