2020 Highlights

A global pandemic, the #BLM movement, and figuring out create new traditions among the old ones, 2020 has been a roller coaster of emotions. However, like during any obstacle, this year came as an opportunity to create new norms. Here are a few things I’ve covered, participated in and experienced in 2020.

PEN America webinar on untangling misinformation.
  1. Misinformation about COVID: I covered a story about how misinformation travels within communities like Bangla communities for Tostada Magazine. The story showed how elders relied on the younger generation to translate information in real time, as well as depended on social media for information which was otherwise slow to be translated about COVID-19. The original story was reposted by Next Avenue, which is part of PBS news. I later spoke about this with other guest speakers during a PEN America webinar.
  2. Prioritizing Mental Health: Mental health was a trending topic throughout the year. As people changed their livelihoods to cope with the changes, I wrote this list to help myself and others keep themselves as a priority.
  3. A Ramadan like no other: With mosques, churches, synagogues, temples closed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus this year many people were trying to figure out how to celebrate holidays like Eid, Easter, and Hannakuh via Zoom. Similarly Ramadan, the month of fasting and doing good deeds, was quite different this year for Michigan Muslims and worldwide including my family. I wrote this ultimate Ramadan list on the many online festivities taking placed during the month.
  4. Learning must go on: In September parents geared up for virtual, hybrid, in-person learning or homeschooling. I spoke to a few parent teachers on how they planned to make adjustments for their careers and families. Meanwhile I made this tip list for parents who were doing virtual learning and working from home.
  5. Equitable architecture: The death of George Floyd in May, and the following #BlackLivesMatter protests created a ripple effect of changes throughout the U.S. One of those things was creating equitable architecture and development and opportunities in major cities for minority communities.
  6. Yemen Mural: Last year a petition spurred protest to halt potential construction in front of the renowned Yemen Mural in Hamtramck, Mich. Developers, the city and well wishers looked for possible solutions to preserve the iconic mural which depicts parts of Yemen.
  7. To Covid wedding or not? Small businesses scrambled to make ends meet while they changed formats to stay float the wedding market this year due to the pandemic. While some vendors took a huge financial hit, others moved services online or created new “wedding packages” to accommodate the pandemic restrictions.
  8. Election coverage: While it felt like Detroit vs. Everybody during the presidential elections in 2020, Hamtramck had its unique share of confusion over Bangla ballots for non-native English speakers due to a federal law which requires municipalities with a significant number of people from a single language to have access to translated ballots. While these ballots have been available for years, some people were not aware of them while others say the wording on the ballots are lost in translation.
  9. Food Writing #ftw: Turns out a lot of folks were cooking more at home, with restrictions on restaurants being open and eating out. Much like those of us who were eating, more people wanted to write about food too. This year I took part in the Detroit Writing Room panel of food writers on breaking into food writing, and another food writing workshop with the Arab American Museum as part of a month-long writing series.
  10. Fellowships: This year I took on two fellowships; one the South Asian American Digital Archive creators’ fellowship to record oral histories of Detroit’s Bangladeshi Women Entrepreneurs. The other is a Journalists in Aging fellowship where I will document the spread of misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic in Bangladeshi communities.

2020 out, 2021 in!

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