• Janice Lin

That Was This Year?

At the end of 2020, people proclaimed that 2021 could not possibly be more turbulent or, to put the matter more bluntly, worse. Now that 2021 is over, let’s take a look at some events that occurred last year, some you may have even forgotten about. Since quite a bit occurred last year, some events have been excluded in this listing for the sake of length.


January

Six days into the new year, there was an insurrection on the US Capital, the first time since the War of 1812. The incident sparked more discussion on the political division and domestic terrorism within the US. Two days later, Twitter banned former president Donald Trump permanently “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” pointing to his role on January 6th.




On January 20th, Joe Biden was inaugurated, as well as the US’s first female, African, and South Asian Vice-President, Kamala Harris. We also were gifted with this iconic picture of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.





February

On the first day of February, the military arrested democratically elected leaders and staged a coup in Myanmar.


On February 7th, the Weeknd performed the halftime show at the Superbowl. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their second Super Bowl ever against the Kansas City Chiefs (31-9).


For 17 long days between February 10th and 27th, there was a power grid failure in Texas due to an extreme winter storm. The result was a loss of power for more than 4.5 million homes, $195 billion in property damage, and more than 100 deaths, in the face of which, Texas Senator Ted Cruz went on a trip to Cancun and threw his daughters under the bus.



March

On March 7th, Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah was aired, which had details about Markle’s relationship with the rest of the royal family, especially regarding her race, and her consequent mental health struggles.


March 16th was the day three Atlanta spas were shot up, which sparked and raised awareness on AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islander) hate, which has spiked since the onset of Covid.


Between March 23rd and March 29th, there was the Suez Canal crisis where Ever Given, a container ship, blocked the path, causing $90 million in lost toll revenue for the Egyptian government, and data from Lloyd’s List showed $9.6 billion of trade was halted each day.

About 12% of global trade, around one million barrels of oil, and roughly 8% of liquefied natural gas pass through the canal each day.



April

On April 3rd, the MLB pulled the All-Star Game from Georgia, and announced it would be in Colorado after Georgia passed a controversial voter law, which prohibits giving food and water to voters waiting, restricts absentee ballots, and shortens periods of run-off elections.


In more royal news, on April 9th, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99.


On April 23rd, Derek Chauvin was convicted for the death of George Floyd. Two months later, Chauvin was finally sentenced to 22 and ½ years of prision.


The Oscars took place on April 25th, where some of the most memorable winners were Chloé Zhao who won Best Director for Nomadland, Daniel Kaluuya won Best Supporting Actor for Judas, and the Black Messiah, and Yuh-Jung Youn won Best Supporting Actress for Minari. Zhao was the first woman of color and the second woman to win the award.



May

Throughout May, the Israeli-Palestine conflict escalated, with multiple incidents occurring in a ten-day time period. On May 7th, at least 163 Palestinians and six Israeli officers were injured after clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque. On May 10th, Israel launched airstrikes against the Gaza Strip, killing more than twenty people. On May 17th, the conflict between Israel and Palestine reached its deadliest day, as 43 people were killed and 50 wounded by a new airstrike.



On May 29, the remains of 215 children were found at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, Canada. Although previously, the school was run by the Catholic Church, the government shouldered blame since it was in charge for 10 years. The discovery sparked much-needed discussion on treatment of Native Americans, not only in the US but in Canada.



June

On June 5th, Nigeria placed a nationwide ban on Twitter following the platform’s removal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet. Only four months later would he lift the ban, with conditions.



On June 19th, Ebrahim Raisi won Iran’s vote for president in an election that most of the country did not vote in. Raisi has a brutal human rights record, is considered ultra-conservative, and played a role in the execution of the country’s political prisoners.


July

It was July 8th, when the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed. The incident killed 98 people and injured many more. It was revealed that reports of structural damage existed, but little to nothing was done about it.


Then, the space race. On July 11th, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic went to space; he became the first private citizen to enter space in his own spaceship. Nine days later, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin launched with the first all-civilian crew to make it to space.


This summer, July 23rd to August 8th, the 2020 Olympics were held in Tokyo with no audience due to Covid; however, a light was shined on mental health since USA gymnastics’ Simone Biles had to withdraw from certain events.




August

On August 29th, Hurricane Ida claimed the lives of more than 30 people in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. After 2005’s infamous Hurricane Katrina, the area was deeply hurt, and Hurricane Ida became the most damaging storm to hit the area since.


Finally, on August 30th, the US finished withdrawing from Afghanistan, which left the country in the hands of the Taliban.



September

On September 1st, a controversial Texas law regarding abortion came into effect, prohibiting women from obtaining abortions after six weeks, a point at which many women do not even know they are pregnant. This law also gives incentives for Texans to sue and report those who aid in an abortion, even by driving a woman to her abortion appointment. Other states have adopted similar abortion laws, including Mississippi's law which has made it to the Supreme Court. These laws have spurred a conversation on a woman’s right to choose.

What’s more, Californian Governor Gavin Newsom is suggesting to use Texas’ approach with regard to guns; effectively, the proposed law would allow Californians to sue people who sell or possess ghost guns and assault weapons.


Continuing the space race, on September 15th, Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent some more people into space.


Throughout September, October, and November, Broadway shows started to reopen.



October

Three days into October, a Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, first came out with damaging information about the company. This was not the first time Facebook was under intense scrutiny, and Haugen testified before Congress on her knowledge of how the company promotes political division and targets children in search of staggering profits.



Then the next day, October 4th, there was an outage on all of Facebook’s domains, where people were not able to access certain social media.


On October 21st, an actor, Alec Baldwin, famously playing Donald Trump on SNL, shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and injured director Joel Souza with a prop gun in rehearsal on a film set at Bonanza Ranch, New Mexico. In Hollywood, many actors spoke about their experiences with prop guns and checking the barrel. There are questions as to whether Baldwin is and should be held responsible for the death, since he is not only an actor, but also a producer of Rust.



November

On election day, November 2nd, the US saw some historic election wins. Virginia elected Republican-candidate Winsome Sears as its lieutenant governor, the first woman and person of color to hold the position. Boston, MA elected its first female and woman of color mayor, Michelle Wu. Cincinnati, OH, and Seattle, WA also elected their first Asian-American mayors. Durham, NC, and New York City, NY elected their first African-American mayors.


On November 8th, Travis Scott and Drake were sued by concertgoers for their roles in deaths at Astroworld. For details, look at the article about Astroworld and subsequent lawsuits in the previous issue.


After years of legal battles, finally, on November 12th, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge freed Britney Spears from her conservatorship under her father, Jamie Spears. The singer had been put in a conservatorship in 2008 and spent the last thirteen years with her father in official control over her career, finances, and estate. Many fans and supporters started the #freeBritney movement and raised awareness on the consequences of conservatorships.


December

After sixteen years in power, on December 8th, Angela Merkel stepped down as Olaf Scholz was sworn in as the new Chancellor of Germany.


On December 13th, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, was named Time’s Person of the Year.


After a short-lived reopening, Broadway shut down again. Musicals such as “Hamilton,” “Hadestown,” “Aladdin,” “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” temporarily closed due to a surge in Covid cases, particularly in NYC. “Jagged Little Pill” and “Waitress” are closing permanently.



Notable mentions:

  • Donald Trump’s second impeachment and subsequent acquittal were in 2021.

  • El Salvador becomes the first country to make Bitcoin a national currency.

  • France recalls ambassadors to the United States for the first time in the alliance’s history due to a deal on submarines that the US made with Australia.

  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the first African and the first woman to serve as director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

  • Reddit played a major role in the rise and fall of GameStop stock, even making certain Wall Street hedge funds lose millions of dollars.

  • NFTs. That’s it.