it's the latest edition of
The Recommentunde Newsletter
Sent on 31 March 2020 Edition
Thanks to Ina Pinkney for texting me this meme
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I don’t know where these words will lead me.
As I right this, I’m tired, and I can feel something bubbling up inside of me that has the texture of… rage. My sister Belinda recently shared the story of two people she knew from the same household who died of COVID-19, both black. One person was just 20 years old. He had underlying health conditions. If I remember correctly they included asthma and high blood pressure.
The next day I spoke with Lt. Edwin Raymond of the NYPD (interview on IG). He’s an incredible public servant I had a chance to meet four years ago for a show I did. He’s been witness to an extraordinary loss of life due to this coronavirus, especially in parts of black Brooklyn. COVID-19 is pushing a lot of people over the edge, but the truth is too many people were living on the edge to begin with. Racism and exploitative capitalism are comorbitities. We built the system to work this way, and it’s performing as designed.
I look at this administration in the United States, and I see what I’ve always seen from this president: blatant disregard for the lives and wellbeing of others unless there is personal benefit in it for him. This president made his money by discriminating against people, by stealing from his customers, in fact by stealing from us all (that’s what tax crimes are). What he does is who he is. I've been updating this timeline of horribleness someone on Facebook sent me, but honestly, I’m not surprised. I’m not even disappointed. I’m just… furious.
Much of the suffering we have experienced and will see more of soon was avoidable. There was a better way to handle this. There were literal playbooks on how to prevent or minimize a pandemic, but maybe because it happened when we had that young black president, this racist criminal organization in charge now just tossed the shit. So here’s the consequence: We are experiencing different pandemics, and this disease is revealing some of our ugliest truths.
Pregnant women are delivering babies alone. Health workers are being sent into battle without proper equipment. Domestic violence victims are trapped with their tormentors. “Essential workers” running our transit and food networks skew poor and black and brown and are overexposed to this disease, and don’t even get me started on Wisconsin and a Republican Party that now openly admits its strategy for victory is massive voter suppression.
Welcome to another edition of the newsletter. I feel some relief in getting those thoughts off my chest but there’s more where that came from. I urge you to read all the way to the bottom. I'm going to piss you off and bring you down, but I'll do my best to lift you by the end.
Now, for your regularly-scheduled content in these irregular times…
Blood-boiling article in Pro Publica.
Milwaukee, one of our nation’s most segregated cities reveals this: “In Milwaukee, simply being black means your life expectancy is 14 years shorter, on average, than someone white. As of Friday morning, African Americans made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% black. Milwaukee is one of the few places in the United States that is tracking the racial breakdown of people who have been infected by the novel coronavirus, offering a glimpse at the disproportionate destruction it is inflicting on black communities nationwide.”
Article in Buzzfeed
It’s a nice part two to the ProPublica piece above. We have no government policy in place to count the effects of this disease by race. Because we officially don’t want to know. Just like gun violence statistics which we rely on journalistic outlets to capture.
Article in Politico
The virus doesn’t discriminate, but our politics do, and just take a good hard look at the fuckery that is Florida. This is what happens when you turn cruelty into official public policy. Governor DeSantis designed an unemployment insurance system to hurt people. And now we’re about to see just how well his plan is working.
Great data visualization from Flourish
Remember back when idiots would say dumb things like “well, car accidents cause more deaths than coronavirus but we don’t shut down the economy.” It was the “All Lives Matter” of pandemic preposterousness. Check out this graphic which shows COVID-19 quickly rising in a ranking of highest daily death causes in the U.S. Sadly the graphic is out of date and ends with the disease at number three Based on the 1,700 that died in the most recent reporting, COVID-19 is neck and neck with heart disease for number one.
Article in Washington Post
I wanted to remind you that there is an alternate reality possible, in which national leaders act in the national interest and do their damn jobs. That place is apparently called “New Zealand.”
A tweet has never been more true. Puppies for us all!
Video series on Instagram
The actor Gary Anthony Williams did the voice of Uncle Ruckus in The Boondocks. He’s making beautiful art in this ugly moment, and his scenes bring a smile to my face and heart. It’s improv that respects the quarantine rules.
Images on Sad And Useless
Creativity. Improvisation. Joy. All from home. I like this game.
Post on Twitter
I could not finish reading this letter without actual tears of laughter / pain breaking my flow at least twice. We are all Tommy Lee right now.
Video series on YouTube
This is literally my favorite thing this week. Thanks to Ina Pinkney in Chicago for texting it to me. Watch all the way through the end. It’s worth it.
Finally, this music video is so much fire. It's the best civics lesson I've ever seen. The point: we need to vote. In between inventing lessons for your kids, checking on your elderly neighbors, digesting the latest press conference from your governor, and pouring bleach on everything, please please please, make sure you are prepared to exercise your right to vote this Fall. The shit matters. It really makes a life or death difference.
Epic music video by YelloPain. Watch it all the way through.
Recommended Twitter Lists
You do not need a Twitter account to read them or even have to follow these people. It’s a filtered view through expert science writers and scientists.
A list of 11 accounts I made. very U.S. centered.
A bigger list of 89 a dope science lady made. More global in scope.
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Peace and Love.