Identity and Recognition

Black, Native, and Fighting for Recognition in Indian Country (Jack Healy)

If the United States still had to honor treaty promises it made to tribal nations, then tribal nations had to keep their word to the descendants of those formerly enslaved by the tribes.

In a statement, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation said that the issue of the status of the descendants of enslaved people raised thorny questions about tribal citizenship that “cut to the core of self-determination.” They said the tribes had fundamental rights to run their own governments and decide for themselves who qualifies as a citizen.

Consequences in Red

How Decades of Racist Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering (Brad Plumer, Nadja Popovich)

There are places like Gilpin all across the United States. In cities like Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Portland and New York, neighborhoods that are poorer and have more residents of color can be 5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter in summer than wealthier, whiter parts of the same city.

And there’s growing evidence that this is no coincidence. In the 20th century, local and federal officials, usually white, enacted policies that reinforced racial segregation in cities and diverted investment away from minority neighborhoods in ways that created large disparities in the urban heat environment.

The consequences are being felt today.

Fall

US Coronavirus Rates are Rising Fast Among Children (Lauren Leatherby, Lisa Waananen Jones)

The rise in reported cases comes in part from more widespread testing, but Dr. O’Leary said there was evidence that minors were becoming infected at a higher rate now than earlier in the year because hospitalizations and deaths among children had increased as well.

Although much is still unknown about how the virus affects young people, like adults, Black and Latino children who contract the virus are more likely to be hospitalized.

Reform Won’t Do

Incremental Change is Moral Failure (Mychal Denzel Smith)

Casual observers, who aren’t always so casual—they begin to include academics, media professionals, policy makers, presidents—excuse the presence of the police here, and in other hoods like this one, because their position is that in order to stop the violence of the hood you must impose the violence of the state. The police are meant, in this view, to protect the people from themselves, to enforce the discipline their culture lacks.

They have no alternative…. How can a community deprived of the basics expect to receive the resources it needs so that it no longer has to depend on police? Its people have, purposefully, been given nothing else. When they ask, they are told to wait; when they shout, they are told that they are undeserving. They are shamed for the ways they have survived. They are blamed when they don’t survive.

I have grown past impatient with injustice. I am incensed by the delusion, so prevalent among the country’s supposedly serious thinkers, that tinkering around the edges of an inherently oppressive institution will lead to freedom.

Higher Than Average

Tracking the Real Coronavirus Death Toll (Josh Katz, Denise Lu, Margot Sanger-Katz)

Nationwide, 211,500 more people have died than usual from March 15 to Aug. 1, according to C.D.C. estimates, which adjust current death records to account for typical reporting lags. That number is 56,000 higher than the official count of coronavirus deaths for that period. Higher-than-normal death rates are now widespread across the country.

To the Fore

Racism’s Hidden Toll (Gus Wezerek)

“An epidemic shows in a short period of time what’s been going on for hundreds of years,” said David Ansell, who directs community health equity at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

What’s been going on for hundreds of years is the systematic neglect of Black Americans’ health. In 2018, Black people died at higher age-adjusted rates than white people from nine of the top 15 causes of death.

How It Happened

How the Pandemic Defeated America (Ed Yong)

 A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic.

Starting School

What If We Radically Reimagined The New School Year? (Ashley McCall)

What if we put our money, time and energy into what we say matters most? What if this school year celebrated imagination? In We Got This, Cornelius Minor reminds us that “education should function to change outcomes for whole communities.” What if we designed a school year that sought to radically shift how communities imagine, problem solve, heal, and connect?

What if this messy school year prioritized hard truths and accountability?

What if we listened? What if we made space to acknowledge the anger and demands of students? What if our priority was healing? Individual and collective.

What if we recognized that life—our day-to-day circumstances and our response to them—is curricula? It’s the curricula students need, especially now as our country reckons with its identity.

Say Her Name

The Reckoning Will Be Incomplete Without Black Women and Girls (Tamara Winfrey-Harris)

Even though there is now a nationwide outcry against systemic racism and its by-products—the over-policing, incarceration, brutalization, and murder of black people—the discussion and activism almost always center men and boys. By minimizing the trials of black women and girls, the country will miss the full picture of devastation that the American police state imposes on African Americans.

Built-In Oppression

America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress (Bryan Lee Jr.)

For nearly every injustice in the world, there is an architecture that has been planned and designed to perpetuate it.

Rebellion is a response to a prolonged dehumanization of a people unwilling to be participants in their own demise; it is often the soft power of the built environment that provides the preconditions for that dehumanization and the atrocities that follow.