Introduction: In These Uncertain Times, Pittsburgh


  • Leon Ford
  • Deanna Fracul


The COVID-19 pandemic and mass protests in response to the murder of George Floyd during the spring and summer of 2020 gave rise to the phrase “in these uncertain times” as a frame for everyday life in the United States and abroad. For this special issue of Kalfou, we explore uncertainty as a theme for discussions of racism and injustice in a time when even those shielded by significant privilege have been left feeling uprooted and alone. 

This nation has seen horrifying killings of people of color since before its inception. We have also seen pandemics before, as well as the day-to-day health crisis produced by socioeconomic inequality. Yet while resistance, indignation, and protests against such inhumanity are common, we sensed that something was different this time as our elders and young people marched through cities of all sizes. We had not seen white participation at these levels or an executive branch as willfully outrageous as that of our forty-fifth president. Was this a perfect storm that might sweep in significant advances toward equality and justice, or would things get worse? What is the best that we can hope for in these uncertain times, and what is required of us to make it a livable reality in the coming days?