In this interview, Annalisa Heppner, Project Manager for the Circumpolar Laboratory Inventory Project at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University, shares her experiences working, maintaining a relationship, and protesting racial injustice, during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Heppner begins by recalling that she first started hearing about COVID-19 from her family members in Italy. She also remembers her mother cancelling a scheduled visit as well as her experience buying a car from a dealership that started taking precautions at the beginning of March 2020. Heppner adds that her partner lives in Boston and that the two developed living and medical plans for the event that one of them caught the virus. She also talks about some of the changes she has noticed within her community, such as directional arrows and barriers at checkout lines at the grocery store, and the ways that her experiences with the pandemic contrast to those of her friends in other states. Professionally, Heppner explains that the transition to working from home felt hurried and that had she known how long she would be working from home, she would have gathered more interesting projects to work on.
The conversation turns to discussing the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police and the amplification of movements for racial justice and against police brutality. Heppner describes participating in a protest along the Freedom Trail in Boston and notes some of the sights and signs from that moment. She continues by sharing her background as a member of the Rarámuri community from Chihuahua, Mexico, and explaining that indigenous communities are suffering greatly from the pandemic because of systems in place that intentionally restrict them from access to healthcare. In closing, Heppner emphasizes that she hopes people remember the experience of living through a pandemic so that they take better preventative measures in the future.