Special

Will be shown below the Features (if any).

Cover

Illustration of marchers with signs in a city

Illustration by Diana Ejaita Editor’s Note: The publication before you is unlike anything we at Williams Magazine have attempted before. It’s a special issue focused on two major forces shaping our campus and our world: a pandemic that has upended nearly every aspect of daily life, exacerbating systemic, structural inequalities; and the ongoing horrors of

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Harm and Healing

Bilal Ansari portrait

Almost fifty years after a racist incident drove his father out of Williamstown, a son begins the work of helping him—and the Williams community—to heal. By Bilal Ansari, as told to Julia Munemo Photograph by Dana Smith   My great-grandparents Harold and Agnes Logan worked at the Chi Psi fraternity house on Main Street in

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Weather

Portrait of Claudia Rankine

By Claudia Rankine ’86   On a scrap of paper in the archive is written I have forgotten my umbrella. Turns out in a pandemic everyone, not just the philosopher, is without. We scramble in the drought of information held back by inside traders. Drop by drop. Face covering? No, yes. Social distancing? Six feet

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Fighting for Our Lives

Illustration of people embracing one another

By Jessica Graham-LoPresti ’06 Illustration by Diana Ejaita The physical and psychological injuries of racism.   On the morning of August 24, I turned on the news, opened up social media and was immediately overwhelmed by videos of Jacob Blake being shot seven times, in the back, by a police officer in Kenosha, Wis. As

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Navigating Uncertainty

Illustration of parents and a young child sitting on the edge of a diving board with feet in the water.

By Lynn Gerwig Lyons ’87 Illustration by Carmen Segovia How to develop malleability and flexibility. As a specialist in anxious families, the days of Covid-19 have been busy for me. People want to know how best to manage fear, loss and stress, how to parent to mitigate long-term damage and how to navigate ongoing uncertainty.

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Flattening the Loneliness Curve

Illustration of the side of a building with views into five different windows.

By Eunice Lin Nichols ’97 Illustration by Gracia Lam The need for intergenerational connection. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants, I grew up surrounded by a sprawling collection of aunties, uncles, grandmas and grandpas. Some of them were related to me. Most of them weren’t. The richness of this multi-generational community anchored my childhood in

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Grieving the Loss of Employment

Illustration of a sailboat. The sails are made of a manila folder and papers.

By Chris Rudnicki ’11 Illustration by Gracia Lam The hard journey back to work. As the world reels from the fallout of coronavirus, millions of individuals are silently experiencing the unique flavor of psychological suffering related to job loss and unemployment that my family knows too well. My father was laid off during the Great

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Struggle and Success

Photograph of man wear a blue shirt and orange sweater tied over his shoulders.

By Kate Stone Lombardi ’78 Photograph by Dana Smith How two generations of the Davis family helped pave the way for Williams’ ongoing work on equity, inclusion, social justice and community building. The first time Gordon J. Davis saw Williams College was in 1957. His father, the renowned social anthropologist and psychologist W. Allison Davis,

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A Williams Professor Once Told Me, “Don’t Use Your Poetry as a Soapbox”

Portrait of Nicole Alvarez

By Nicole Alvarez ’22   A Williams professor once told me, “Don’t use your poetry as a soapbox” But I look at my old work And revolt like it’s garbage Ironic that I was obsessed with Dolls and polish That spills over the cuticles of my meaning Unable to ever really cover the dirt underneath

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Facing the Truth

Illustration of a bird and protestors

By Virginia Cumberbatch ’10 Justice and equity require “good trouble.” The goal set forth in the Williams mission statement is, in part, “elevating the sights and standards of every member of the community, encouraging them to keep faith with the challenge inscribed on the college’s gates: ‘climb high, climb far.’” Today, as we witness the

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Resurrecting Vanishing Narratives

Illustration of a man walking along a fallen tree while reading a book.

By Christine DeLucia Illustration by Gracia Lam The future of memory in Williamstown. Shortly before the pandemic caused Williams to move to remote learning, I brought my American Material Culture seminar on a historical walking tour of the campus and local surroundings. We began at the Civil War soldiers’ monument in front of Griffin Hall,

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Toward a More Perfect Williams

Illustration of balloons in the shape of 200 with banners and streamers.

By Laura Moberg Lavoie ’99 and Aroop Mukharji ’09 Illustration by Carmen Segovia Marking the alumni society bicentennial. In 2021, the Williams Society of Alumni (SoA)—the world’s oldest alumni association—celebrates its 200th birthday. We are humbled and honored to lead more than 100 alumni volunteers and Williams staff in organizing a yearlong commemoration of this

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Protecting the Food Insecure

Illustration of three adults and two children tending to plants.

Marion Min-Barron Illustration by Diana Ejaita A call for more resilient food systems. In my Williams class International Nutrition, I show my students a photograph of about a dozen Rohingya refugee children standing in line waiting for food. The image was taken in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, several years ago, and what’s chilling about the image

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Leaving the World Behind

Illustration of man sitting on the top of a tree looking towards a distant city.

Essay by Christopher Nugent Illustration by Gracia Lam The literature of solitude. The medieval Chinese poet Tao Yuanming was a minor clerk during the Eastern Jin dynasty. Good enough work if you could get it, but Tao had the nagging feeling this was not who he was meant to be. In his poem “Returning to

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Reckoning and Responsibility

Photograph of woman wearing a fuschia blazer with arms crossed.

Interview by Neil Roberts Photograph by Dana Smith Political theorist Juliet Hooker ’94 discusses movements, monuments and the long struggle to achieve racial justice. Where are we now? That question was the starting point for a Williams Magazine interview that Neil Roberts, chair and professor of Africana studies at Williams, conducted in August with Juliet

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burn

Portrait of Bret Hairston

By Bret Hairston ’21   for the Black princess caught in ivory towers for the Black pauper girl selling small tender matches for the Black baby girl born anew there’s no prince no one arrives on horseback prepared for protection and care to climb their hair so long so short so kinky so loose so

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Promises Broken

Illustration of seven women with arms interlocked with police cars in the background.

By Joy James Illustration by Diana Ejaita Abolition’s long history. The public’s growing awareness following U.S. police killings of unarmed Black Americans—among them George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor—have brought greater attention to abolitionism, a centuries-old movement in opposition to the exploitation and captivity of African and African-diasporic people. It comes as no surprise

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Learning from Reconstruction

Illustration of a bird

A turning point in our history? By Robert D. Bland ’07 In 1967, the historian Lerone Bennett Jr. wrote, “Reconstruction in all its various facets was a supreme lesson for America, the right reading of which might still mark a turning point in our history.” Bennett’s reflection on the Reconstruction era, the post-Civil War struggle

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Unsafe at Home

Illustration of a young child standing near the edge of a hole that is shaped like a house.

By Owen Thompson Illustration by Gracia Lam Covid-19’s impact on lower-income populations. Much of my research and teaching focuses on policies affecting high-poverty populations, especially children. To state the obvious, the problems encountered by low-income children and families due to the Covid-19 pandemic are especially acute. School closures in the spring increased low-income children’s exposure

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Experience and Expectation

Illustration of people at a city intersection

The lessons of Reinhart Koselleck. By Thomas Kohut Many of us have been feeling unsettled in recent months. A framework that I use and that I teach my students to use to empathize with and understand people of the past might help us understand ourselves and our own state of bewilderment in the face of

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On the World’s End

Illustration showing a woman sitting under a tree looking outwards.

By Jacqueline Hidalgo Illustration by Carmen Segovia Apocalypse and the quest to make meaning. This is not the apocalypse I was promised. I’ve spent years reading about persistent and diverse reappearances of apocalyptic imaginations, so I did not think any vision of the apocalypse would surprise me. Yet I’m still amused by some internet reflections

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Unmasking New York City

Illustration of parent and child on a bus in New York City looking out the windows wearing protective masks.

By Mason B. Williams Illustration by Gracia Lam Though tested, the city can rebound. “The whole thing is implausible,” E.B. White wrote of New York City during the sweltering summer of 1948. “By rights New York should have destroyed itself long ago”—by fire, or the failure of a vital supply line or a plague carried

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Rejecting the Politics of Blame

St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty Oct. 1918 Influenza epidemic. Photograph shows mask-wearing women holding stretchers at backs of ambulances.

By K. Scott Wong Photograph Courtesy of Niday Picture Library/Alamy Stock Photo A history of scapegoating. During times of great morbidity, people fear what the new circumstances may forebode about the future, particularly when conflicts and disasters exacerbate social anxieties and are not met with a united effort. Confronted with a crisis we do not

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Responding to the Virus

Illustration of five people in lab coats standing around a crystal ball.

By Lois Banta Illustration by Carmen Segovia Will a vaccine come quickly and safely? It seems everyone is asking how a tiny snippet of RNA can bring the world to its knees. From an infectious disease perspective, the real question is: How did we get through 102 years since the last outbreak of such global

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“I Can’t Breathe”—A Black National Anthem

Portrait of Drea Finley

By Drea Finley   “I can’t breathe” is the national anthem of Black folks, Oh say didn’t you know? With knees on our necks—George Floyd buried in the cement of our nation’s platitudes where Derek Chauvin bared the weight of his white cop soul— duty to protect and serve the land of the free and

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