Jelani Cobb, writing at The New Yorker:
The chaotic, angry, defiant tableaux in the streets of Minneapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Oakland, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Louisville, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Charleston, Detroit, Baltimore, and beyond represent a reckoning, a kind of American Spring, one long in the making and ignited not just by a single police killing. In death, George Floyd’s name has become a metaphor for the stacked inequities of the society that produced them.
The Bon Appétit and Epicurious staff:
Our mastheads have been far too white for far too long. As a result, the recipes, stories, and people we’ve highlighted have too often come from a white-centric viewpoint. At times we have treated non-white stories as “not newsworthy” or “trendy.” Other times we have appropriated, co-opted, and Columbused them. While we’ve hired more people of color, we have continued to tokenize many BIPOC staffers and contributors in our videos and on our pages. Many new BIPOC hires have been in entry-level positions with little power, and we will be looking to accelerate their career advancement and pay. Black staffers have been saddled with contributing racial education to our staffs and appearing in editorial and promotional photo shoots to make our brands seem more diverse. We haven’t properly learned from or taken ownership of our mistakes. But things are going to change.
This, coming on the heels of a courageous series of posts by Sohla El-Waylly where she pointed out incredible inequities at BA which also led to Adam Rapport’s abrupt resignation (in shame). I’ve admittedly been a big BA fan for a long time, and very much hope that what the leadership has put forth is actually implemented.
Update: Some additional context. I’m not quite as hopeful.
Dan Wetzel, at Yahoo Sports, writing about the New Orleans Saints starting quarterback and resident fool, Drew Brees:
What Brees said on Wednesday wasn’t much different than what he said in 2016.
“I wholeheartedly disagree [with the kneeling],” Brees told ESPN then. “… There’s plenty of other ways that you can [protest] in a peaceful manner that doesn’t involve being disrespectful to the American flag.”
A lot of players shared similar sentiments, including African American players. There was little to no backlash from their peers. It was rare for more than a few players of any color on a single team to take a knee.
That even included when, in 2017, Trump called any kneeling player a “son of a bitch” and elicited the most unified response. Even team owners, many of whom are donors and supporters of Trump, linked arms with players or briefly kneeled in a show of solidarity.
After teammates such as Malcolm Jenkins (I’m still mad he’s not in Philadelphia anymore) and other famed athletes, including LeBron James rightfully ripped Brees, he took to Instagram to apologize. Hilariously, he owned himself again by using what seems to be a very popular stock image. My head hurts.
Joel Anderson, writing at Slate:
It was hard to miss the duplicity. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea strongly and publicly rebuked the four Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd’s death. “What we saw in Minnesota was deeply disturbing. It was wrong,” he tweeted. “This is not acceptable ANYWHERE.” But on Friday in Brooklyn, his officers were swinging batons and scuffling with protesters in the streets, and on Saturday they were ramming their police cruisers into them.
And in Minneapolis, where the national uprising got its fiery start, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo earned praise for his decisive action in firing the four officers involved in Floyd’s killing. “I know that there is currently a deficit of hope in our city,” Arradondo said in a news conference Thursday. “I know that this department has contributed to that deficit of hope, but I will not allow to continue to increase that deficit.” By Saturday, journalists reported on Minnesota state troopers firing tear gas at media members at point blank range.
Amanda Mull, writing at The Atlantic:
This template that brands use to respond to a national crisis has become standard in recent years, as people experience collective trauma on the internet in real time. Images of police violence, school shootings, or racist attacks appear on the same social-media platforms where companies sell mascaras or sneakers or delivery services, often side by side. Contemporary marketing theory implores brands to show up where people naturally congregate online and engage with the topics they care about. That means riding the wave of memes and random topics that sustain social-media chatter, posting in the same formats as everyone else, often acting more like a friend than a company—even in times of tragedy.
This display of solidarity from Pop Tarts was my personal favorite. Sheesh. Then there’s the hypocritical garbage heap, known as the National Football League…
The NFL might be the most visibly anti-protest brand to nonetheless attempt to link itself sympathetically to the state violence perpetrated against black Americans. Since the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem in silent protest of police brutality in 2016, he has been unable to get a job in the league even as teams scrounge for competent players at his position. The NFL has repeatedly insisted that its teams did not collude against Kaepernick, and the league settled a lawsuit brought by him and his teammate Eric Reid in 2019. “The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger, and frustration that so many of us feel,” the NFL wrote on Twitter this weekend. The league promised that it was “committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs, and partners.”
Osita Nwanevu, for The New Republic:
Authoritarianism is what sent demonstrators to Lafayette Square in the first place. A man has been killed by state-sponsored thug; across the country, citizens rising to protest are being bludgeoned and gassed by historically unaccountable authorities. What happened Monday was a small step in evolution, not the beginning of a great conversion. To the extent it was the high-water mark of anything, it was perhaps the apotheosis, in political imagery anyway, of conservative social politics—the whole ideological infrastructure summarized and made plain within the space of an hour. No, we’ve been told, the state shouldn’t go out of its way to make the disadvantaged whole or bring law and order to an economy controlled by gamblers, gluttons, and cheats. But it can be brought to bear, with overwhelming brutality, against people conservative Americans deem to be inferior and unworthy of our government’s attention.
I found myself nodding through this piece so hard I kept having to physically stop myself so I could continue reading. In this hellscape we find ourselves in, I’m incredibly thankful to the talented writers and reporters educating us every day. News is not broken, you just need to know where to find it.
Jamil Smith, writing at Rolling Stone:
Right now, the coronavirus and the police are posing lethal threats to protesters. COVID-19 is still killing black people disproportionately, at about three times the rate of white people nationwide. The rates vary for police violence; black people in Minnesota are 20 percent of those killed by law enforcement, despite being only five percent of the population. Both the virus and the violence have also been weaponized against black folks in very public ways of late. How many people took risks with the virus on Memorial Day weekend, carelessly disregarding the provably inordinate risk to black communities? How many then joined the protests this past week and actually claimed that they’re fighting for black survival? How many cops keep shooting tear gas at people during a pandemic that strikes at the lungs, giving a newly tragic resonance to “I can’t breathe”?
Jamelle Bouie, at The New York Times
The simple truth is that comparisons to 1968 should be made sparingly. Yes, we have mass civil unrest, but it’s impossible at this stage to say how it will play out in November and you can’t simply plot the circumstances of a half-century ago onto the present. There are too many differences. There is no Vietnam War or disintegrating Democratic coalition. Our unrest is happening against a backdrop of deprivation and deep inequality, not the relative prosperity of the late 1960s. And while Trump benefits from a devoted coalition, it remains a vocal minority, not a “silent majority.” The protests are different too, encompassing a large, diverse cross-section of America. In turn, there appears to be greater sympathy for the protesters and their grievances, so much so that most public officials outside of the president and his closest allies have shown some understanding of the anger and discontent even as they oppose riots and disorder.
Jamelle has some great thoughts here, as always. We have a tendency to look for historical context in crisis, which isn’t necessarily bad, but we need to understand that we’re in uncharted territory.
As we try to understand the forces at work in this country, we should do so with profound humility about the limits of what we can know and what we can foresee. We should remember that the past, like the present, was contingent; that events that seem inevitable could have gone a different way; that those who lived through them were, like us, unable to see how things would unfold. We should be aware of the past — we should understand the processes that produced our world — but it shouldn’t be a substitute for thinking. We are not them, and now is not then.
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Well hello there. I plan to start posting here again given, you know, being stuck in a global pandemic. Stay tuned.
It’s a month that is of vital importance to my family. As some of you may know, our oldest son was diagnosed in May 2009 with a malignant brain tumor. In the blink of an eye, we went from a young family with a seemingly-healthy six month old baby to a young family facing the reality that our son was gravely sick.
Today, that baby is in second grade. As I write this, he’s eating dinner with his two younger siblings. They just spent an afternoon running around the yard together.
That may just sound like another September afternoon to you, but to me, it’s nothing short of a miracle.
There are few things as important as helping support families of children with cancer. I tear up every year that Stephen posts this. This year is no different. Then I donate. You should too, if you’re able.