The Atlantic Daily: The Breaking Point
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“People finally see it. White people too,” George Floyd’s younger brother Philonise told the reporter Wesley Lowery. “My brother is going to change the world.”
Lowery, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, has chronicled the Movement for Black Lives for the better part of a decade.
Minneapolis, he writes, marked a breaking point, reached after years caught in a “gruesome cycle” of violence—years when black men and women continued to be killed with little to no concessions from American police.
Here are just four takeaways from his expansive piece (I encourage you to read it in full):
Activists have spent years pushing for reform.
“Though they sometimes diverge on tactical questions, the activists who make up the core of the movement desire to create, for the first time in our nation’s history, a reality in which black people aren’t routinely robbed of their livelihoods and lives by armed government agents.”
Many believe this time is different.
“Years into the movement, the potential for true progress may finally be at hand, in no small part because the same cycle of unabated violence that has infuriated black activists is finally, due to the unrelenting stream of video evidence, forcing many white Americans to wake up.”
Those clamoring for Barack Obama in this moment misunderstand the movement’s origins.
“To suggest that Obama could silence the enraged screams of the streets is to fundamentally misunderstand the origins of the protests of recent years: They were, in part, a direct response to the perception among young black activists that his administration had failed to address persistent racial inequalities with adequate urgency.”
Calls for a “new Martin Luther King Jr.” may also be misguided.
“Such suggestions require the absolute confidence that, were King alive today, he would continue to advocate for precisely the same tactics in response to today’s injustices as he did in response to those of the 1950s and ’60s—a conclusion that presumes unknowable things about what a man who has been dead since 1968 would believe today. For all we know, King might by now have become so fed up by this nation’s persistent failure to address the injustices he made it his life’s work to expose that he too would be picking up a rock.”
One question, answered: When will it be acceptable to sing together at houses of worship?
“Like so many things, experts can’t offer a simple, permanent No or Yes, do it exactly like you always used to on the subject of pandemic singing,” James Hamblin writes in the latest edition of his column, “Paging Dr. Hamblin”:
“There may be some hope in the middle ground, where the risk is not zero, as it would be if everyone sang over Zoom in isolation chambers, but is still lower than traditional choral scenarios. Some groups have developed choral hacks like remote performances, or proposed amplifying clergy with microphones so they don’t have to project more than necessary.”
A cheaper option? “Take services and rehearsals fully outdoors.”
Every Wednesday, Jim takes questions from readers about health-related curiosities, concerns, and obsessions. Have one? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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What to read if … you just want practical advice:
- Here’s how many people have the coronavirus in your state
What to read if … you’re looking for something to watch:
Tonight, try Ramy, a show whose creator explores “both the specific experiences of his Egyptian American family in New Jersey and the universal question of desire—where it comes from and what it can cost,” our critic writes. Season 2 is now available on Hulu.
This email was written by Caroline Mimbs Nyce, with help from Haley Weiss and Isabel Fattal, and edited by Shan Wang.
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